'Significant' reduction in child arrests in Avon and Somerset
PUBLISHED: 12:00 15 September 2018
The number of child arrests in Avon and Somerset has dropped by 82 per cent in the past seven years.
The Howard League for Penal Reform has published the figures which show Avon and Somerset Constabulary made 1,342 arrests of children aged 17 and under last year, down from 7,255 in 2010.
Across England and Wales, the total number of child arrests has been reduced by 68 per cent – from almost 250,000 in 2010 to 79,012 last year.
The statistics, compiled from responses to Freedom of Information requests, show the continued success of a major Howard League programme, which involves working with police forces to keep as many children as possible out of the criminal justice system.
The total number of arrests has been reduced every year since the Howard League campaign began in 2010, and the impact can be seen in every police force area in the country.
The number of children in prison in England and Wales was reduced by more than 60 per cent between 2010 and 2017, as fewer boys and girls were drawn into the penal system.
Frances Crook, chief executive of the charity, said: “This is the seventh year in a row that we have seen a significant reduction in the number of child arrests across England and Wales, and Avon and Somerset police’s positive approach has contributed to that transformation.
“It is a phenomenal achievement by the police and the Howard League, and it means that tens of thousands of children will have a brighter future without their life chances being blighted by unnecessary police contact and criminal records.
“We have come a long way, but there is still more work to do. The Howard League has launched a programme to end the criminalisation of children in residential care, and our research also highlights the need for better understanding of child criminal exploitation.
“Children who have been trafficked to commit crime should be seen as victims first and foremost.”
Research also revealed there were 12,495 arrests of girls in 2017 – arrests of girls have reduced at a faster rate than boys.
Arrests of primary school-age children have also been reduced. There were 616 arrests of 10 and 11-year-olds in 2017, a drop of 12 per cent from the previous year.