Dramatic fall in number of children arrested

Arrests of children in Northumberland have fallen dramatically over the last five years, new figures reveal.

The number of arrests has gone down by 64 per cent in the Northumbria Police area, according to the figures from the Howard League for Penal Reform.

Research shows that the number of arrests in the force area dropped from 16,460 in 2008 to 5,990 in 2013.

Last year, police in England and Wales made 129,274 arrests of children aged 17 and under, which included 1,107 arrests of youngsters who were aged ten or 11, meaning that on average, three primary schoolchildren were arrested every day.

In 2013 the total number of child arrests was as high as 318,053 – equivalent to an arrest every 99 seconds.

In total, police made more than 1.3 million arrests of children between January 2008 and December 2013.

Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “It is encouraging to see that Northumbria Police are making significantly fewer arrests of children than they were in 2008, thanks in part to our effective campaigning.

“Most police services in England and Wales have developed successful local initiatives that resolve issues quickly and cheaply, involve victims in the justice process and, crucially, avoid criminalising boys and girls.

“A sharp fall in the number of children entering the justice system is good news for everyone striving to reduce crime and saves the taxpayer untold millions.

“The challenge for police now is to maintain this trend.

“At a time of austerity, further reducing the number of children arrested would free up more officer time to deal with serious crimes.”

Children in England and Wales can be arrested from the age of ten, but a Howard League briefing paper recommends that the age of criminal responsibility should be raised to 14, in line with the European average.