THE Howard League for Penal Reform has hailed news that child arrests by Warwickshire Police have fallen by 64 per cent in a decade.
Since 2010, campaigners has been working with police forces across England and Wales to reduce child arrests, helping to ensure that hundreds of thousands of boys and girls do not have their lives blighted by a criminal record.
West Mercia Police has done even better, their rate of child arrests from from 5,491 in 2010 to 887 in 2020.
Data provided by police forces show that arrests of children aged 17 and under were reduced by 13 per cent last year – from 72,475 in 2019 to 63,272 in 2020.
This continues a positive trend seen throughout the decade since 2010, when 245,763 arrests were recorded.
The League says the impact can be observed nationwide with every regional police force in England and Wales achieving a significant reduction in child arrests over the last decade, with all but one reducing their arrest rate by at least 60 per cent.
Warwickshire Police made 505 child arrests in 2020.
This compares to 511 the year before and 1,419 in 2010, the year that the Howard League campaign began.
Academic research has shown that each contact a child has with the criminal justice system drags them deeper into it, leading to more crime. This is why the Howard League is working to keep as many boys and girls as possible out of the system in the first place.
Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “Every child deserves the chance to grow and fulfil their potential, and we must do all we can to ensure that they are not held back by a criminal record.
“A decade of success for the Howard League’s programme to reduce child arrests has given hundreds of thousands of children a brighter future.
“Warwickshire Police has made giant strides, diverting resources to tackling serious crime instead of arresting children unnecessarily, and this approach will help to make our communities safer.
“As we begin to emerge from the pandemic, and as police forces recruit thousands more officers, the challenge now is to build on this success and reduce arrests still further. Keeping up the momentum will enable even more children to thrive.”
Nine police forces recorded reductions of 20 per cent or more in 2020: Cheshire (24 per cent); Cumbria (33 per cent); Leicestershire (24 per cent); Merseyside (22 per cent); Norfolk (34 per cent); Nottinghamshire (31 per cent); South Wales (27 per cent); Suffolk (24 per cent); and British Transport Police (22 per cent).