Number of children arrested in Bedfordshire continues to drop
Bedfordshire Police has welcomed a report which shows the number of under 18s arrested by the force has to continued to drop.
In 2018, 682 children were arrested in Bedfordshire, a reduction of 261 compared to the previous year. The figure has dropped every year for the force 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 71 per cent reduction in child arrests since 2010. In Bedfordshire the number has been more than halved from 1,953 to 682 over this period.
Assistant Chief Constable Jackie Sebire said: “We do not want to criminalise children unnecessarily, particularly if they themselves are actually victims of exploitation in drugs lines or similar, so it is pleasing that the number of young people arrested in Bedfordshire has continued to fall.
“We recognise the value of alternative ways of dealing with young people involved in crime, and the importance of understanding the root cause of behaviour so we can work with partners to offer support and divert them away from becoming entrenched in criminality.
"That approach is key to the innovative Violence and Exploitation Reduction Unit (VERU) – a partnership approach across Bedfordshire to identify and deal with the issues behind violent crime which has been launched following Home Office funding.
“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.”
Head of the VERU Kimberley Lamb said: “Working with children and young people and diverting them away from violence and exploitation is our driving focus.
“The police are one of our key partners around this and I think these figures show they understand the need to work with children, who are often vulnerable and can be exploited into offending.
“We will be investing in projects across the county over the coming months that can offer our young people a different path, while laying the foundations for further progress across all our services in Bedfordshire to help those at risk.”