COMET INVESTIGATION: Child arrests up in North Herts and Stevenage
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HUNDREDS of young people from Stevenage and North Herts were arrested last year, with children as young as 10 charged with crimes and a 15-year-old accused of murder.
The figures, which the Comet obtained through a Freedom of Information request, revealed there were 492 arrests on youngsters aged 17 and under in 2012 – nearly 100 more than last year.
And a number of shocking cases have come to light, with 16 arrests concerning children who had not even hit their teens.
They include a 10-year-old charged with actual bodily harm and an 11-year-old given a warning for the same offence.
A 13-year-old was charged with grievous bodily harm, but failed to attend court, and another 13-year-old was charged with robbery violence.
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Two 11-year-olds were also charged with theft and common assault.
Youth charity The Prince’s Trust said it was working with young people in Stevenage and North Herts to help combat such cases.
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A spokesman said: “We meet young people every day who – for whatever reason – have been in trouble with the law. Many have experience difficult childhoods and feel like they have no future.
“We work hard to help them turn their lives around, giving them the skills and confidence needed to make a positive contribution to society.”
Last year, there were also five arrests where young people were suspected of either possessing an offensive weapon or an article with a blade or sharp point. Two were charged and two were given warnings.
Four were arrested on suspicion of sexual offences and a 15-year-old was arrested on suspicion of murder, although bail was cancelled on all five and no further action was taken.
Other reasons for arrest included possession of drugs with intent to supply, racism, threats to kill, wasting police time, possession of indecent images and affray.
More than a third led to charges, and a further 10 per cent resulted in a warning or reprimand, where the child admitted their guilt.
Commenting on the figures, Herts Police said: “The constabulary is duty bound to conduct thorough investigations into all crimes reported to us.
“In order to carry out these investigations we will arrest those we believe are involved in, or responsible for such crimes. Any person over the age of 10 is not exempt from this and can be arrested by law.”
Of the 492 young people arrested, 197 were from North Herts and 295 were from Stevenage.
• To see reaction and interviews with police and councils on what they’re doing to cut down on this, see page 2 of the Comet.