Bedfordshire Police has welcomed a report which shows the number of children arrested by the force has continued to drop.
A total of 943 under-18s were arrested in Bedfordshire last year, a reduction of 142 compared with the previous year and continues a drop which has occurred every year since 2012, according to a report from the Howard League for Penal Reform which campaigns for a reduction in child arrests.
Nationally there has been a 68 per cent reduction in child arrests since 2010 – in Bedfordshire the number has been almost halved from 1,953 to 943.
Chief Constable Jon Boutcher said: “It is pleasing that the number of children arrested in Bedfordshire has continued to fall and reflects the work we are doing in this area.
“We do not want to criminalise children, as we recognise that this often just leads to further issues in the longer term.
“There can be far greater value in seeking alternative resolutions which will actually help and support those young people and divert them away from becoming entrenched in crime. Sadly there will be occasions where criminal sanctions are the only option.
“But it is important that we do all we can, with partners and indeed families and communities, to understand the causes of young people becoming involved in crime and help steer them onto the straight and narrow.”
The data gathered showed that, nationally in 2017, 26 per cent of child arrests were from Black and Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds – despite the fact only 18 per cent of the 10-17 child population were BAME.
Mr Boutcher, who is the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) lead for Race & Religion, added: “It is disappointing that there still appears to be a disproportionate amount of young people from BAME backgrounds who are being criminalised. It is imperative that this matter is addressed to ensure the policing service nationally is treating all of our communities equally. I will continue to work closely with other forces and partner agencies across the UK to ensure that children from BAME backgrounds are not being unfairly treated.”