Boy, 11, is Blackpool crime spree ringleader, MP says
An 11-year-old boy who attacked a police officer is the "ringleader" of a crime spree, an MP has said.
Conservative MP Scott Benton said a gang of youths had committed "hundreds of crimes" in Blackpool in recent weeks.
He said police attempts to bring the ringleader to justice had been compromised by children's services, "who refuse to criminalise teenagers".
The council said that was "completely untrue" and there was no interference.
Mr Benton, who represents Blackpool South, said residents in the areas of Talbot and Brunswick had "been plagued by anti-social behaviour in recent weeks, with hundreds of different crimes being committed by a gang of teenagers".
He said the 11-year-old was "responsible for over 80 different offences, including assaulting a female police officer".
'Uninformed and unhelpful'
Asking for a parliamentary debate on whether police have the powers to tackle anti-social behaviour, he said: "Sadly the efforts of Lancashire Police to bring him to justice have been compromised by Blackpool Council's children's directorate, who refuse to criminalise teenagers."
Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt encouraged him to set up a Commons debate, saying it would take "a team of people to redress this situation - it's about education, it's about the local authority, it's about a good policing approach".
Blackpool Council described Mr Benton's comments as "uninformed" and "unhelpful", adding that the number of crimes in the area had dropped, although "some serious and impactful issues remain".
It said it was "completely untrue" to suggest that there had been "any interference from children's social care in the work of the police to address criminal acts or youth anti-social behaviour."
"The Youth Justice Partnership in Blackpool rightly takes a 'child first' approach to anti-social behaviour among children, but this does not mean that offending is taken lightly."
The local authority said suggesting an 11-year-old was a ringleader was "harmful" to individual children, and detracted from the national issues of county lines, when vulnerable children are exploited to commit crime.
Police, council and community organisations had "worked hard" to address local concerns and engage vulnerable children and young people in "positive activities", it added.
Earlier this year, the council promised to improve children's activities after a review reported that many youths found them boring.