24th Oct, 2017

Child arrests tumble as police act to keep children out of prison system

ARRESTS of children by West Mercia Police have fallen by 77 per cent in the last six years.

Figures published by the Howard League for Penal Reform has found that the force made 1,247 arrests of children aged 17 and under last year, down from 5,491 in 2010.

The figures for Warwickshire Police show a similar decline, falling by 58 per cent over the same period.

The Howard League found the force had made 597 arrests of children aged 17 and under last year, down from 1,419 in 2010.

Across England and Wales, the total number of arrests has fallen by 64 per cent in six years – from almost 250,000 in 2010 to 87,525 in 2016.

The statistics underline the success of a major Howard League programme, which involves working with police forces to keep as many boys and girls as possible out of the criminal justice system.

The Howard League has campaigned on the grounds that keeping children out of the criminal justice system helps prevent crime.

Academic research has shown that the more contact a child has with the system, the more entrenched they are likely to become, which increases re-offending rates.

Nationwide, there were 703 arrests of primary-age children (10- and 11-year-olds) in 2016, a reduction of 18 per cent from the previous year.

Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League said: “For the sixth year running, we have seen a significant reduction in child arrests across the country.

“This is a tremendous achievement, and we will continue to support police forces to develop their good practice and reduce the number to an absolute minimum.

“West Mercia and Warwickshire Police should be applauded for their positive approach, and the Howard League is proud to have played its part in a transformation that will make our communities safer.

“By working together, we are ensuring that tens of thousands of children will have a brighter future and not be dragged into a downward spiral of crime and custody.”

Child arrest figures for West Mercia Police: 2010 – 5,491; 2011 – 3,442; 2012 – 2,664; 2013 – 1,758; 2014 – 1,418; 2015 – 1,354; 2016 – 1,247.

The figures for Warwickshire Police are: 2010 – 1,419; 2011 – 1,050; 2012 – 673; 2013 – 623; 2014 – 563; 2015 – 619; 2016: 597.

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