Steep fall in number of children arrested in Warwickshire

Campaigners say it's good news that fewer children are labelled as criminals
Campaigners say it's good news that fewer children are labelled as criminals

Arrests of children by Warwickshire Police have fallen by 71 per cent in five years, according to new figures.

The number of arrests of children aged 17 and under in Warwickshire dropped from 2,147 in 2008 to 623 in 2013.

Police forces across the country have reviewed their arrest procedures and policies following pressure from the Howard League for Penal Reform, which published the figures.

Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League, said: “It is encouraging to see that Warwickshire Police are making significantly fewer arrests of children than they were in 2008, thanks in part to our effective campaigning.

“Most police services in England and Wales have developed successful local initiatives that resolve issues quickly and cheaply, involve victims in the justice process and, crucially, avoid criminalising boys and girls.

“A sharp fall in the number of children entering the justice system is good news for everyone striving to reduce crime and saves the taxpayer untold millions.

“The challenge for police now is to maintain this trend. At a time of austerity, further reducing the number of children arrested would free up more officer time to deal with serious crimes.”

Children in England and Wales can be arrested by police from the age of ten – the lowest age of criminal responsibility in Western Europe.

A Howard League briefing paper on the child arrest figures recommends that the age of criminal responsibility should be raised to 14, in line with the European average.

The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child has stated that an age of criminal responsibility below 12 is “unacceptable”.

Child arrest figures for Warwickshire

2008: 2,147

2009: 1,774

2010: 1,419

2011: 1,050

2012: 673

2013: 623