Big drop in num­ber of chil­dren be­ing ar­rested

Rather‘tha‘ n crim­i­nal­is­ing young people, we recog­nise that it is bet­ter to tackle the root causes of the prob­lem...

Warwickshire Telegraph - - NEWS - Ben Ec­cle­ston News re­porter

NEARLY 8,000 chil­dren were ar­rested across the West Mid­lands and War­wick­shire last year – al­though the num­bers show a dra­matic fall of 70 per cent com­pared to five years ago.

Lat­est fig­ures from the Howard League for Pe­nal Re­form show that 7,213 young­sters aged 17 or un­der were cuffed by po­lice in the West Mid­lands, while in War­wick­shire a to­tal of 623 chil­dren were ar­rested.

The num­bers show a huge drop from 2008 when the fig­ures stood at 23,105 for the West Mid­lands and 2,147 in War­wick­shire – around 70 per cent for both forces which is higher than the na­tional aver­age of 59 per cent.

The re­search from the Howard League, which is the old­est pe­nal re­form char­ity in the UK, shows that last year po­lice across Eng­land and Wales made 129,274 ar­rests of chil­dren aged 17 and un­der.

These in­cluded 1,107 ar­rests of chil­dren aged just 10 or 11, mean­ing that on aver­age three pri­mary school-age chil­dren were ar­rested ev­ery day.

Chief Insp Karl Fel­lows, from the West Mid­lands force’s crim­i­nal jus­tice ser­vices, said: “Rather than crim­i­nal­is­ing young people, we recog­nise that it is bet­ter to tackle the root causes of the prob­lem and di­vert young people away from this type of life­style.

“Clearly there are times when an ar­rest is the most ap­pro­pri­ate course of ac­tion when a se­ri­ous of­fence has oc­curred and the sus­pect is a child; how­ever for more mi­nor in­ci­dents we utilise a va­ri­ety of res­o­lu­tions rather than an ar­rest.

“We reg­u­larly re­view our cus­tody pro­cesses to en­sure that people, whether adults or chil­dren, are de­tained in ac­cor­dance with the law.”

Gareth Mor­gan, War­wick­shire Po­lice as­sis­tant chief con­sta­ble, said: “We en­cour­age our of­fi­cers to use their judge­ment and dis­cre­tion when con­sid­er­ing the op­tions avail­able to re­spond to a crime or in­ci­dent in a pro­por­tion­ate way, no mat­ter how old the people in­volved are.

“If al­le­ga­tions in­volve a young per­son a care­ful bal­ance needs to be made be­tween ar­riv­ing at the right out­come for the vic­tim while en­sur­ing the child has an op­por­tu­nity to show re­morse, learn from their mis­takes and, with the ap­pro­pri­ate sup­port, move for­ward in a con­struc­tive way.

“We wel­come this re­port and the pos­i­tive steps that have been taken to give the best pos­si­ble out­come for young people who come to the at­ten­tion of the po­lice.”

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