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Great Britain

Huge drop in arrests of children by police in Derbyshire

Frances Crook, boss of the Howard League for Penal Reform, which campaigns to keep children out of the criminal justice system.
Frances Crook, boss of the Howard League for Penal Reform, which campaigns to keep children out of the criminal justice system.

The number of children in Derbyshire to be arrested by police has dropped by 76 per cent in eight years, according to new figures.

Research shows that the county’s police made 994 arrests of boys and girls, aged 17 and under, in 2018.

This compares to 1,038 the previous year and 4,194 back in 2010 when a major campaign was launched to reduce child arrests across the country.

The statistics have been released by the Howard League for Penal Reform, a charity that aims for less crime and fewer people in prison.

The charity believes that each contact a child has with the criminal justice system drags them deeper into it, leading to more crime.

Therefore, it works with police forces across England and Wales to keep as many children as possible out of the system in the first place.

The figures for Derbyshire are in line with the national trend. Data from more than 40 police forces shows that 70,078 arrests of children were made in 2018, a reduction of more than 70 per cent from 2010.

Arrests of primary-school youngsters, aged ten or 11, dropped in 2018 to 383, which was 38 per cent fewer than the previous year.

Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League, said: “Tens of thousands of children can look forward to a brighter future without their lives being blighted by police contact and a criminal record.

“Derbyshire Police, and other forces up and down the country, have diverted resources to tackling serious crime instead of arresting naughty children. This will make communities safer.

“Building on this success and reducing the number of arrests still further would allow even more children to thrive.”

One of the biggest reductions in child arrests from 2017 to 2018 was 22 per cent, made by the largest force in the country, the Metropolitan Police.

Other forces to record significant reductions included Gwent (38 per cent), Bedfordshire (28 per cent), Cumbria (27 per cent), North Wales (24 per cent), Kent (23 per cent), Cleveland (19 per cent), West Mercia (19 per cent) and Durham (18 per cent).

In contrast, British Transport Police registered a hefty rise from 865 child arrests in 2017 to 1,160 in 2018.

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