A two-year-old child reported to police for shoplifting is thought to be the youngest such case ever on record.
The incident, disclosed in a Freedom of Information request made by Cambridge News, is believed to have occurred last year in Cambridgeshire.
Details surrounding the case involving the toddler remain unclear and it is not known whether the child was the subject of further police action.
Figures released by Cambridgeshire police show that the number of youngsters under the age of criminal responsibility reached a record high in the area in the last year.
In similar – although previously not as extreme – cases, children are rarely taken into police custody but are instead subject to restorative justice with the approval of the victim.
Under police guidelines, the process allows victims the chance to explain the impact of the crime to the youthful perpetrators, without arresting and criminalising those responsible.
A spokesperson for the Cambridgeshire Police force told The Independent: “By their nature FOI requests can result in data which is uncontextualised. In this instance there is data which shows young children being reported for various alleged crimes.
“All reports of crime are recorded, however these will of course not always result in criminal charges.”
Cambridge-based counsellor and psychotherapist Dany DuBois, who works on child-related issues, said that children under the age of 10 do not possess a full understanding of right and wrong.
“A two-year-old will pick up lots of things that attracts them but they would have no concept that is stealing and there are more appropriate ways of dealing with that rather than going to the police,” she told the Cambridge News.