A senior police officer has said it is “frighteningly irresponsible” and “beggars belief” that a 12-year-old boy was caught up in a riot in Newtownabbey.
The 12-year-old boy was one of two juveniles arrested during public disorder in the O’Neill Road area on Tuesday night.
Violence flared close to the petrol station around 11pm.
Police were attacked with paint bombs, petrol bombs and other missiles and at least two vehicles were burnt out during the near two-hour long disturbance.
It’s thought around 30 youths were attacking police, however the PSNI said no officers were injured.
Police said two juveniles, aged 12 and 15, were arrested on Tuesday night.
The 12-year-old was released pending further enquiries and the 15-year-old was charged with riotous behaviour and was due in court on Wednesday afternoon.
PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Will Kerr said: “One of those arrests was of a 12-year-old child and I would like us to stop and reflect for a moment on that detail.
“A 12-year-old child was arrested on the streets of Newtownabbey at 1am for being engaged in attacking police.
“Apart from how frighteningly irresponsible it is to allow a child of that age out on the streets at 1am, to allow them to engage in a riot - it just beggars belief.”
The violence is the fourth night of trouble in the area which erupted after a Parades Commission determination to restrict an Orange Order march through the Ardoyne area of north Belfast.
On Sunday night four teens aged 15 and another aged 18 were arrested and charged with rioting offences.
Local sources have told the Times loyalist paramilitaries were “obviously pulling the strings of rioters”.
Meanwhile, residents have said they are “sick and tired” of the violence with one man said he was considering moving his young family away to another country.
“I don’t want my children growing up anywhere near this trouble,” he said.