More than 1,000 driving bans given to children

media caption'Mikey' illegally started driving when he was 16 years old

More than 1,000 driving bans were issued in 2017 to children not legally old enough to be behind the wheel.

The number of disqualifications for children aged 16 and under rose to 1,024 last year, compared with 696 in 2014, according to DVLA figures.

Children as young as 12 were among those banned, with 33 disqualifications issued in total during 2017 for those aged 13 and under.

Motoring group the RAC described the figures as "the tip of the iceberg".

The statistics were given to the BBC under the Freedom of Information Act.

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image captionClockwise from top left: Anthony Armour, Darnell Harte, Robbie Meerun, Elliot and Ellis Thornton-Kimmit were all killed in a crash in Meanwood, Leeds

A 15-year-old boy caused the deaths of five people in Leeds in November when he crashed a stolen car into a tree after reaching speeds of 88mph.

The teenager, who cannot be named due to his age, admitted five counts of causing death by dangerous driving and was detained for four and a half years.

Elise Dhers, whose 15-year-old brother Darnell Harte was killed in the crash, is calling for tougher tariffs for perpetrators.

She said: "The judge should have said 'I'm going to set an example, I'm going to teach young boys or girls who feel it's OK to steal a car that there are consequences for their actions'."

'Not worth it'

Currently, UK courts can impose driving bans on those who are legally too young to drive. Once they have turned 17 and their disqualification period ends, they will be able to drive again.

Penalty points would still be listed on any licence issued and could lead to an increased ban if another offence is committed.

One teenager from Bradford, who wanted to be known as Mikey, described how at aged 16 he and his friends would "chip in" up to £500 to pay an adult to obtain them a car.

"I've been in a police chase but we got away because we went into these streets and the [patrol] car couldn't get into these little streets. The police had to go over the kerbs slowly and that's when we got away," the 18-year-old said.

"The highest speed I did was 135mph, I was putting people in danger. If I hit someone, that's someone else's family that I'm destroying - it's not worth it."

image caption"Mikey" said he had been involved in a police chase while driving under age

RAC spokesman Simon Williams said: "It presents such a danger to every other road user, because they're not only driving without a licence, they don't have insurance.

"No doubt this is the tip of the iceberg because they have to be caught breaking the law and inevitably many will be getting away scot-free."

He added the number of roads policing officers had been cut by about 27% since 2010, so "the chances of getting caught are far lower".

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice said they were committed to courts having sufficient powers to deal with driving offences.

It added: "We will bring forward proposals for changes in the law as soon as parliamentary time allows.

"These proposals will take account of, and incorporate, all of government's proposals for safer roads, including the Department of Transport's review of cycle safety."

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