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Minor Australian kids charged with rape, arson

Crime by minors is soaring in Australia as nearly 300 children under 10 years have been charged with offences like rape and arson, a newspaper has revealed.

The Herald Sun got access to statistics allegedly kept hidden by police in Victoria state that would expose at least 288 children investigated for 305 serious offences in the past five years. The crimes include burglary, car theft, drugs, weapons and explosives.

But because the suspects were aged under 10, and the law states that they do not know right from wrong, the accused children cannot be charged with any crime. Frustrated police officers have termed the rising child criminals "The Untouchables", the daily said.

The statistics showed that 254 boys and 34 girls, aged nine and under, were processed for 11 sex crimes, including rape, 36 burglaries, five counts of stealing a motor vehicle, three drug possessions, or using drugs, and three counts of being armed with weapons or explosives.

Police Association spokesman Bruce Mckenzie said such crimes were going on "without consequence" and called for laws to be reviewed. Police initially claimed the children's crime data was not stored. But a whistleblower leaked the information, saying the situation was out of control.

The age of criminal responsibility varies across the world, from six in North Carolina in the US and seven in India, South Africa, Singapore and most of the US, to 17 in France and Poland and 18 in Brazil and Belgium.

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