Huge fall in child arrests in the West Midlands

By Richard Guttridge | Crime | Published:

The number of children arrested by police has fallen dramatically over the last decade, new figures have shown.

Child arrests have fallen dramatically

Around 4,000 youths were arrested in the West Midlands in 2018 - a fall of more than 10,000 from eight years earlier.

The total has also come down in Staffordshire, from around 4,100 to 1,100.

The number of child arrests have fallen every year since 2010, reflecting the national picture, suggesting police chiefs have changed their approach to dealing with troubled kids. Dwindling resources may also have had an impact.

Campaign group the Howard League welcomed the reduction, saying youths taken into the criminal system were less likely to change their ways. It said police had previously been arresting too many "naughty children".

A total of 4,049 boys and girls under 17 were arrested by West Midlands Police in 2018 compared to 14,387 in 2010. There were 1,081 arrests in Staffordshire last year, down from 4,163 in 2010.

Data from more than 40 police forces nationally showed that they made 70,078 arrests of children in 2018 – a reduction of more than 70 per cent from almost 250,000 in 2010.

Across England and Wales, the total number of child arrests has reduced every year this decade, while the number of children in prison has been reduced by 63 per cent.



Arrests of primary school-aged children have been reduced significantly. There were 383 arrests of 10- and 11-year-olds in 2018, a reduction of 38 per cent from the previous year.

Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, 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.

“West Midlands 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, and the Howard League is proud to have played its part.


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

A West Midlands Police spokesman said: "Groups like the Howard League have been campaigning for police to reduce the number of children arrested and detained in police cells before being put before court.

"We work with partner agencies and Youth Offending Teams to explore alternatives to detention and prosecution of under-18s − designed to rehabilitate them and curb offending − but for the most serious child offenders and repeat offenders we will take whatever steps are necessary to protect the public."

Richard Guttridge

By Richard Guttridge
Investigations Editor - @RichG_star

Investigations Editor for the Express & Star.

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