ARRESTS of children by Devon and Cornwall Police have fallen by 76% in the last six years, claim figures published on Monday (August 7) by the Howard League for Penal Reform.
Research by the charity has found that the force made 994 arrests of children aged 17 and under last year, down from 4,132 in 2010.
Across England and Wales, the total number of arrests has fallen by 64% in six years — from almost 250,000 in 2010 to 87,525 in 2016.
The statistics underline a major Howard League programme, which involves working with police forces to keep as many boys and girls as possible out of the criminal justice system.
Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, 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.
‘Devon and Cornwall 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.
‘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.’
Every police force in England and Wales made fewer child arrests in 2016 than in 2010. All but four forces brought down their number of arrests by more than half. Nationwide, there were 703 arrests of primary-age children (ten and 11-year-olds) in 2016, a reduction of 18% from the previous year.
And between 2010 and 2016, the number of children in prison in England and Wales fell by 58%.
In the report, it stated that arrests of girls were falling at a faster rate than arrests of boys. Police recorded a 69% drop in girls’ arrests between 2010 and 2016 and the number of girls in penal custody fell by 78% during the same period.
The briefing stated that the positive trend across police forces had been led at a national level, most notably by the National Police Chiefs’ Council, which had prioritised improvements in the policing of children.
The league added that although improvements had been made, arrests were still all too common — in 2016 a child was arrested every six minutes in England and Wales.