In a bizarre incident, police from southwestern China circulated a photo of a criminal when he was just a child. The Chinese police later apologised for posting the picture.

According to reports, the pictures of ‘Wanted’ criminals were released on Tuesday by officers in Zhenxiong county, Yunnan province. The police released 100 photographs, out of which four showed children, and one, in particular, went viral online. It features a boy of primary school age in a blue shirt, staring rather innocently at the camera.

The police notice read, “Ji Qinghai, male, ethnicity Han … is wanted by the police for involvement in a public nuisance case,” reported South China Morning Post. The notice issued from the county police warned that one Ji Qinghai is wanted for violent offences and gang crimes but the photograph they attached with the message was that of kid. The available public records searchable online using the ID number in the poster suggests that Ji is 17 years old.

The police believed Ji could still be caught because his current facial features still resemble those of the kid. But after the picture went viral on social media and the police was trolled mercilessly for it, an officer of Zhenxiong county police defended the decision to use an old photograph because more recent ones were not available. A Zhenxiong police officer identified only as Liu told the Chongqing Morning Post that a recent photo of Ji was blurry, hence they used a clearer one from his childhood.

After being trolled on social media the Zhenxiong police apologised. “The use of old children’s photos (now removed) has drawn the attention of netizens and created a negative influence,” the post read. “We sincerely apologise for the carelessness in our work.”

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