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...
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.”