Child arrests in Herts and Beds fall dramatically, police figures show

The number of child arrests has dropped significantly across England and Wales in the past six years

The number of child arrests has dropped significantly across England and Wales in the past six years. File photo. Credit: Getty Images/Hemera - Credit: Getty Images/Hemera

The number of children arrested by Herts police has fallen more than half since 2010, according to new figures – with Beds police also arresting far fewer under-18s.

Police data obtained by the Howard League for Penal Reform charity indicates that Herts officers arrested 1,558 children aged 17 and under during 2016, down from 3,948 in 2010 – a drop of 61 per cent.

Beds police arrested 1,085 children in 2016, down 41 per cent from 1,853 in 2010.

Across England and Wales, the total number of child arrests has fallen by 64 per cent in six years – from almost 250,000 in 2010 to 87,525 in 2016.

The Howard League for Penal Reform, which published the figures yesterday, said these figures underline the success of its work with police to keep boys and girls out of the criminal justice system.

Chief executive Frances Crook said: “For the sixth year running, we have seen a significant reduction in child arrests across the country. This is a tremendous achievement, and we will continue to support police forces to develop their good practice and reduce the number to an absolute minimum.

“Hertfordshire police should be applauded for their positive approach, and the Howard League is proud to have played its part in a transformation that will make our communities safer.

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“By working together, we are ensuring that tens of thousands of children will have a brighter future and not be dragged into a downward spiral of crime and custody.”

Nationwide, there were 703 arrests of children aged 10 or 11 during 2016. Between 2010 and 2016, the number of children in prison in England and Wales fell by 58 per cent.

A Herts police spokesman said: “The force has a dedicated team for children and young people that works to keep young people out of the criminal justice system. A specialist case director is appointed in case where the suspect is a under 18 who will look at what alternative measures that can be used.

“For example, where appropriate, community resolutions and restorative justice processes are used instead of criminal charges. In these circumstances an arrest is not a necessary part of the process.

“The force has also worked with partners such as children’s homes to reduce the number of reports in relation to young people living in them. This helps avoid unnecessarily criminalising these young people.”

Beds police community safety Sgt Ben Dimmock added: “When a young person is found to be involved in crime, the force’s policy is, where possible, to avoid criminalising them and to ensure they have access to help and support.

“This approach is always balanced with the protection of the communities of Bedfordshire. The force is committed to engaging with young people in the county.”