CHILDREN as young as ten are among almost 1,000 under-18s convicted or cautioned for knife crime in Essex in just over a decade.

Ministry of Justice figures for Essex Police show young people were involved in 963 of the 5,343 cases resulting in cautions or convictions between July 2010 and June 2021 – 18 per cent of those punished.

And 400 of those punishments were handed to children aged between just 10 and 15.

The true scale of crimes involving children is likely to be higher as the data is limited to the possession of knives or offensive weapons and threats involving such weapons – it does not include assaults, murders or other kinds of weapons offences.

Of the youngsters convicted in Essex, most (88 per cent) were first time offenders but 114 had at least one previous conviction, and six had three or more.

Young offenders were sent to prison in 114 of the cases recorded in the last 11 years, while 532 investigations ended with community sentences and 251 led to a caution being issued.

The Government has pledged to do more to protect young people from knife crime and get weapons off the streets, after knife and offensive weapons convictions among under-18s rose significantly across England and Wales prior to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Ben Kinsella Trust, set up in memory of a teenager who was stabbed to death at the age of 16, called for more to be done to educate young people about the dangers of knife crime.

CEO Patrick Green said the figures illustrated the negative impact knife crime was having on young lives, adding "no child was born carrying a knife".

He said: "We should not forget that young people are also increasingly likely to be victims."

Just under 100 cautions and convictions were issued to Essex youngsters in 2020-21.

A Government spokesman said it was combining "tough enforcement" and early intervention programmes to get dangerous weapons off the streets and to divert youngsters away from crime.

He added: “Knife crime has fallen under this Government since 2019, but we are determined to do more and this requires a joined-up response – particularly to protect our young people."