KIDS as young as 10 have been reported by police for housebreaking in Fife.

The shocking figures, obtained by the Scottish Conservatives, show that some children’s life of crime is well underway before they leave primary school.

Since 2014/15, there have been 517 referrals to the Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration about youngsters invading people’s homes with the intent to steal.

Alexander Stewart MSP, the Tory justice spokesman, said in the case of the pre-teen reports, “questions really do have to be asked about the parents”.

In Fife the numbers of referrals for housebreaking stood at 22. Across Scotland the age range was even lower with some children as young as eight committing the crime.

Mr Stewart, who represents Mid-Scotland and Fife, said: “Having your home burgled is one of the single most unsettling and traumatic things that can happen to a household.

“For the victims, the perpetrators’ age becomes a secondary concern as it is a terrifying experience which can leave a lasting impact.

“Notwithstanding this, it is highly alarming however that hundreds of children have been referred for this heinous crime across Scotland in recent years – and this trend isn’t looking to improve any time soon.

“It is essential to ensure these youngsters are put on the right path, especially as has proven time and again that once people start out on this road to a career in crime, it is enormously difficult to turn them round.

“When the sad story that children who haven’t even reached their teens are being referred for this level of crime; questions must be asked about the parents too.”

He added: “Housebreaking is a very real and general problem across Scotland, with an extremely poor clear-up rate and having hundreds of under 18s contributing to this epidemic makes the scenario all the more heart-breaking and I will be questioning the SNP Scottish Government ministers to enquire just what is being done by them to tackle this situation.”

Last month, the Scottish Government outlined its intentions to increase the age of criminal responsibility in Scotland from eight to 12.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Where the behaviour of a child gives rise to concern, it is essential that this is addressed sensitively, effectively and promptly, with the child and their family. Many of the perpetrators are vulnerable children themselves.

“Our firm focus on diversion and prevention has achieved dramatic, positive results, and contributed to an 83 per cent reduction in the number of offences referrals to the Children’s Reporter in recent years.”