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10 Oct 2016

Child arrests in England and Wales fall by 59 per cent in five years

City police officers on the beat on Bethnal Green Road, London, England, UK

Arrests of children have fallen by 59 per cent in the last five years – after a concerted effort by police across the country and a successful campaign by the Howard League for Penal Reform to keep as many boys and girls as possible out of the criminal justice system.

Figures published by the charity today (Monday 10 October) reveal that, during 2015, police in England and Wales made 101,926 arrests of boys and girls aged 17 and under.

The number has fallen every year since 2010, when police made 245,763 child arrests. Many forces have reviewed their arrest procedures and policies after the Howard League’s positive engagement with them.

Every police force in England and Wales made fewer child arrests in 2015 than in 2010. Thirty-four forces brought down their number of child arrests by more than half, including 10 who achieved reductions of more than 70 per cent.

The most successful force in the country was Humberside Police, which recorded a 77 per cent drop in the number of arrests.

There were 871 arrests of primary-age children (10- and 11-year-olds) in 2015.

Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “I applaud the police for their success in reducing child arrests. The Howard League is proud to have played its part in a significant change to the policing and life chances of children.

“It is particularly gratifying that the reduction in child arrests matches the reduction in custody for children, and it is no coincidence. We have stemmed the flow of children into the justice system and the consequential downward spiral into crime and custody.”

The statistics have been published in a Howard League briefing, Child arrests in England and Wales 2015, which shows how reducing the number of children entering the system has stemmed the flow of children into custody.

Between 2010 and 2015, the number of children in prison in England and Wales fell by 59 per cent – decreasing at about the same rate as child arrests.

Arrests of girls are falling at a faster rate than arrests of boys. Police recorded a 63 per cent drop in girls’ arrests between 2010 and 2015, and the number of girls in prison decreased by the same proportion.

The briefing states that the welcome fall in arrests can be attributed to better use of resources to solve problems, the removal of national targets, improved staff training, and support from communities.

There is still more work to be done, however. Eleven forces recorded an increase in child arrests last year and, although improvements have been made, arrests remain all too common – a child was arrested every five minutes in England and Wales in 2015.

Child arrest figures for England and Wales

2010: 245,763
2011: 202,961
2012: 150,600
2013: 131,673
2014: 115,483
2015: 101,926

Notes to editors

  1. The Howard League for Penal Reform is the oldest penal reform charity in the world. It is a national charity working for less crime, safer communities and fewer people in prison.
  2. The Howard League for Penal Reform made freedom of information requests for data from all police services in England and Wales.
  3. Child arrests in England and Wales 2015 can be read on the Howard League website at: https://howardleague.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Child-arrests-2015.pdf
  4. Child arrest data from each police service in England and Wales is shown in the table below:
Police force 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Avon and Somerset 7,255 5,608 4,321 2,929 2,342 1,767
Bedfordshire 1,853 1,692 1,770 1,390 1,290 1,175
British Transport Police  * * 2,073 1,643 1,335 1,014
Cambridgeshire 3,440 2,099 1,473 1,067 1,060 979
Cheshire 1,870 1,904 1,508 1,269 1,266 1,292
City of London 273 192 136 122 77 80
Cleveland 4,367 3,368 2,407 1,862 1,527 1,358
Cumbria 1,274 1,864 1,263 1,125 1,073 1,034
Derbyshire 4,194 3,938 ** 1,930 1,840 1,573
Devon and Cornwall 4,132 3,363 2,398 1,431 1,470 1,297
Dorset 2,310 1,053 1,252 815 770 916
Durham 3,658 2,841 1,767 1,445 1,493 1,193
Dyfed Powys 2,307 1,643 1,584 1,165 687 625
Essex Police 7,739 5,870 4,237 3,931 3,718 2,542
Gloucestershire 1,516 1,412 1,268 920 861 725
Greater Manchester  *** 10,903 7,807 6,144 5,969 4,587
Gwent 2,503 2,163 1,698 1,569 980 1,172
Hampshire 8,267 6,533 5,091 6,058 3,192 2,295
Hertfordshire 3,948 1,809 2,478 1,776 1,753 1,632
Humberside 5,751 2,067 2,732 2,008 1,460 1,300
Kent 7,505 6,409 4,412 4,602 3,752 2,976
Lancashire 9,779 5,476 4,158 3,201 2,887 3,074
Leicestershire 3,322 2,685 2,252 1,670 1,553 1,103
Lincolnshire  *** 1,911 1,290 1,027 990 1,117
Merseyside 10,197 8,421 6,213 5,066 5,295 3,273
Metropolitan 46,079 39,901 30,155 26,442 23,402 22,328
Norfolk 2,510 2,201 1,316 1,384 1,561 1,602
North Wales 3,420 2,596 2,022 1,780 1,554 1,577
North Yorkshire 4,525 3,644 1,152 1,556 1,445 1,317
Northamptonshire 2,594 2,177 1,660 1,289 1,270 1,115
Northumbria 11,407 9,280 6,983 5,990 5,280 3,829
Nottinghamshire 5,743 4,640 2,989 2,189 2,319 1,840
South Wales 5,659 2,551 3,166 3,245 2,978 2,854
South Yorkshire 6,235 5,094 3,344 2,693 2,285 1,812
Staffordshire 4,163 3,316 2,491 1,741 1,418 1,808
Suffolk**** 3,716 1,684 1,388 1,118 1,030 1,011
Surrey 1,955 1,974 1,483 1,524 1,624 1,338
Sussex 5,779 4,564 4,423 4,018 3,220 2,679
Thames Valley 8,012 6,539 2,531***** 3,808 3,225 2,872
Warwickshire Police 1,419 1,050 673 623 563 619
West Mercia 5,491 3,442 2,664 1,758 1,418 1,354
West Midlands 14,387 10,487 7,484 7,123 5,803 5,438
West Yorkshire 12,947 10,600 7,492 6,148 5,417 5,045
Wiltshire 2,262 1,997 1,596 1,079 1,031 1,389
TOTAL 245,763 202,961 150,600 131,673 115,483 101,926

* British Transport Police was not sent FOI requests in 2010 or 2011
** Half of the 2012 figures lost when new system was introduced
*** Police force did not supply data
**** Revised data provided for 2012-2015
***** Data limited to the period 15 May to 31 December 2012 – the introduction of a new custody management database meant the force was unable to extract data from the system

Contact

Rob Preece
Campaigns and Communications Manager
Tel: +44 (0)20 7241 7880
Mobile: +44 (0)7714 604955
Email: robert.preece@howardleague.org

ISDN line available on 020 7923 4196 – uses a G722 system

For enquiries outside normal office hours, please call +44 (0)7918 681094.

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