Report reveals huge drop in number of children arrested by Northamptonshire Police in last five years

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The number of children arrested by Northamptonshire Police has fallen by 58 percent in five years, according to new figures.

In 2008, 3,069 children were arrested. In 2013 that figure was 1,289, The report was published by the charity, the Howard League for Penal Reform.

A spokesman said police services across the country had reviewed their arrest procedures and policies as a result of the charity’s engagement with them.

“However, despite this positive trend, child arrests remain all too common nationwide – a child was arrested every four minutes in England and Wales in 2013.

“Last year, police in England and Wales made 129,274 arrests of children aged 17 and under. These included 1,107 arrests of children who were aged 10 or 11, meaning that on average three primary school-age children 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 1.3million arrests of children between January 2008 and December 2013,” he added.

Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “It is encouraging to see that Northamptonshire 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.”

Chief inspector Nick Purdie of Northamptonshire Police said: “The total number of arrests in the county is on a steady decline which is as we would expect with significantly falling crime rates.

The arrests of young people is in line with this trend. However, we do make particular efforts not to criminalise young people and arrests for minor offences are avoided.

“Northamptonshire Police works with a number of partners to engage with young people who may be involved in anti-social behaviour or causing a nuisance within a community to prevent any offending from escalating.

“The police cannot break the cycle of offending alone, whether for young people or

individuals more generally. Northamptonshire Police is working with many partners to address re-offending rates and we are focused on preventing crime happening in the first place.

“This approach involves working with educators, social services and others in an attempt to divert offenders from crime.”

Children in England and Wales can be arrested by police from the age of 10 – the lowest age of criminal responsibility in Western Europe. A Howard League briefing paper on the child arrest figures recommends that the age of criminal responsibility should be raised to 14, in line with the European average. The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child has stated that an age of criminal responsibility below 12 is unacceptable.

Child arrest figures for Northamptonshire

2008: 3,069

2009: 2,757

2010: 2,594

2011: 2,177

2012: 1,660

2013: 1,289