West Midlands Police Charge 84 Children For Gun Crimes Since 2013
29 March 2016, 14:25 | Updated: 29 March 2016, 14:42
West Midlands Police say they've charged 84 children for gun crimes between 2013 and last year, with the youngest just 11 years old.
A Freedom of Information request revealed that, nationally, children as young as 10 have been arrested between 2013 and January 2016 for alleged firearm offences.
In the West Midlands, there were 83 boys and 1 girl arrested in total, including one 11-year-old, one 12-year-old and eight 13-year olds.
It accompanies the news of four fatal shootings in Birmingham over the past six months.
However, the number was halved between 2013 and 2015, with 34 arrested in 2013 and 32 in 2014, but just 17 charged last year.
That is in contrast to a national increase of 20% in child arrests for alleged gun offences over the last year.
Jennifer Blake is a former gang member - she said that schoolchildren are often used by gangs to hide firearms:
"They are going to be used, because they are less targeted, so they will get away with it.
"If they want to have someone deliver a gun or drugs, they will tend to utilise those individuals."
Ian Cameron Swanston's 20-year-old brother Dorrie was shot in 1999. He is now a counsellor and trustee of the charity 'Mothers Against Violence.'
He wasn't surprised at the figures: "They're fearing for their own lives, and they're seeing that as an answer.
"There is a sense of status in it. I think, what I'm finding is that there is also a stronger sense of needing to protest themselves."