Child arrests continue to fall in the West Midlands

Child arrests in the West Midlands have fallen by 76 per cent over the last decade following a shift in police policy towards youths.

STAFFORD COPYRIGHT EXPRESS & STAR JAMIE RICKETTS 05/02/2019 - House Fire in Sycamore Lane, Highfields, Stafford....
STAFFORD COPYRIGHT EXPRESS & STAR JAMIE RICKETTS 05/02/2019 - House Fire in Sycamore Lane, Highfields, Stafford....

A total of 3,431 children were arrested by West Midlands Police last year, a huge drop from 14,387 in 2010.

Police forces have made attempts to move away from arresting children, instead taking other courses of action in many cases following criticism too many youngsters were being criminalised from an early age and having their life chances ruined.

The number of child arrests has consistently fallen every year since 2017, when the total was 4,674. In 2018 it was 4,049 and in 2019 there were 3,960 arrests.

Frances Crook, chief executive of prison campaign group the Howard League for Penal Reform, said it crucial children are not "held back" by having criminal records.

She said: "Every child deserves the chance to grow and fulfil their potential, and we must do all we can to ensure that they are not held back by a criminal record.

“A decade of success for the Howard League’s programme to reduce child arrests has given hundreds of thousands of children a brighter future.

"West Midlands Police has made giant strides, diverting resources to tackling serious crime instead of arresting children unnecessarily, and this approach will help to make our communities safer.

“As we begin to emerge from the pandemic, and as police forces recruit thousands more officers, the challenge now is to build on this success and reduce arrests still further. Keeping up the momentum will enable even more children to thrive.”

The trend in the West Midlands is being replicated nationally.

Data provided by police forces shows arrests of children aged 17 and under were down by 13 per cent last year – from 72,475 in 2019 to 63,272 in 2020. In 2010, the total was 245,763.

Every police force in England and Wales has achieved a significant reduction in child arrests over the last decade, with all but one reducing their arrest rate by at least 60 per cent.

The largest force, the Metropolitan Police, made 13,599 child arrests in 2020. This was a four per cent reduction on the previous year and a 70 per cent reduction on 2010, when 46,079 arrests were recorded.

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