Number of children arrested has dropped by 30 per cent in four years

Arrests of children have fallen.
Arrests of children have fallen.

The number of children arrested by Bedfordshire Police has fallen by 30 per cent in the last four years.

Research by the Howard League for Penal Reform reveals that the number of arrests in the county dropped from 1,853 in 2010 to 1,290 in 2014.

The charity, which campaigns for less crime, safer communities and fewer people in prisons, says the statistics prove that it’s long-running programme of work to keep as many children as possible out of the criminal justice system is working.

Every police service in England and Wales made fewer arrests of children aged 17 years old and under in 2014 compared to 2010. Some forces reduced the figure by more than 70 per cent.

A spokesman for Beds Police said: “We work hard with schools and other educational establishments to help identify vulnerable young people who may go onto commit crime, and we work with our partners to ensure that appropriate support is put in place.

“Similarly, we strive to keep children and young people out of the criminal justice system and we have a schools protocol in place to assist with this.”

The sharp reduction in arrests has led to a significant fall in the number of children in prison - down by 56 per cent since January 2010.

Chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, Frances Crook, said: “The Howard League has worked closely with police forces round the country to stem the flow of children being sucked into the criminal justice system.

“The fantastic success of our programme of work and the police improvement to their practices means that thousands of children have not had their life chances blighted.

“It is for parents and schools to deal with normal childish challenging behaviour, not the police.

“It is to the credit of the police that they have introduced restorative approaches and given front line officers discretion to make professional decisions.”