Police arrest a child every two and a half minutes

News release

Monday 3 December 2012

Police in England and Wales arrest a child every two and a half minutes

A child was arrested every two and a half minutes in England and Wales last year, figures obtained by the Howard League for Penal Reform reveal today.

New research by the charity shows police made more than 206,000 arrests of boys and girls aged 17 and under during 2011. This number includes 2,117 arrests of children who were aged 10 or 11, meaning that on average six primary school children were arrested every day.

In total, more than one million child arrests have been made in England and Wales since 2008.

However, in a huge success for the Howard League’s campaign to reduce the number of child arrests, the figures represent a fall of a third since 2008, when more than 315,000 were recorded. Several police services have reviewed their arrest procedures and policies as a result of the charity’s engagement with them.

The campaign’s success and the way forward will be discussed at the Howard League’s Policing and Children Conference in Birmingham on Thursday 6 December 2012.

Ten police services have seen the number of arrests more than halve between 2008 and 2011. They are Dorset, Humberside, Suffolk, Hertfordshire, West Mercia, West Midlands, Gloucestershire, North Wales, Lancashire and Warwickshire.

Girls account for about a fifth of arrests each year, 207,808 between 2008 and 2011. However, 24,055 fewer girls were arrested in 2011 than in 2008 – a welcome fall of 38 per cent.

Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “Children who get into trouble are more often than not just being challenging teenagers and how we respond to this nuisance behaviour could make a difference for the rest of their lives.  An arrest can blight a life and lead to a criminal record for just being naughty. The positive change in policing children will release resources to deal with real crimes.

Only a handful of children are involved in more serious incidents and they usually suffer from neglect, abuse or mental health issues.  A commitment to public safety means treating them as vulnerable children and making sure they get the help they need to mature into law-abiding citizens.

“Under the last government, police success was measured by the number of arrests and children proved a seductive way to make up the numbers. The fact that the number of child arrests has fallen by a third since 2008 is a testament to a change of culture, more focused on public safety than targets.”

Child arrest figures for England and Wales

2008: 315,923

2009: 279,667

2010: 240,760

2011: 206,902

Speakers at the Policing and Children Conference will include:

Jacqui Cheer QPM, Temporary Chief Constable of Cleveland Police

Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform

John Drew, Chief Executive of the Youth Justice Board

Kate Green MP, Vice Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Women in the Penal System
David Hanson MP, Shadow Minister for Policing

Commander Christine Jones, Metropolitan Police

Paul McKeever, Chair of the Police Federation

Professor Jo Phoenix, Durham University

Drusilla Sharpling, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary

Keir Starmer QC, Director of Public Prosecutions

Notes to editors

1.    The Howard League for Penal Reform is the oldest penal reform charity in the UK. It is a national charity working for less crime, safer communities and fewer people in prison.

2.    The Howard League for Penal Reform requested freedom of information data from all police services in England and Wales.

3.    The Policing and Children Conference is to be held at Aston Business School, Birmingham, B4 7ET, on Thursday 6 December 2012, from 9.30am until 4.30pm. Journalists are welcome to attend.

4.    Child arrest data for each police service in England and Wales is shown in the table below:

 

Police service area

2008

2009

2010

2011

 

 

 

 

 

Avon and Somerset

 9169

7479

7255

5608

Bedfordshire

2574

2154

1853

1692

Cambridgeshire

4054

3795

3440

2099

Cheshire

2537

2037

1870

1904

City of London

274

251

273

192

Cleveland

4882

4735

4367

3368

Cumbria

3360

2853

2168

1871

Derbyshire

5608

4513

4194

3938

Devon and Cornwall

5495

4757

4132

3363

Dorset

3892

3917

3574

1053

Durham

4594

4116

3658

2841

Dyfed Powys

2974

2610

2307

1643

Essex

10763

10006

7739

5870

Gloucestershire

3035

2435

1516

1412

Greater Manchester

*

*

*

10903

Gwent

3185

2871

2503

2163

Hampshire

10458

9446

8267

10020

Hertfordshire

5366

4995

3948

1809

Humberside

6607

6272

5751

2067

Kent

10157

10089

7505

6409

Lancashire

11115

10511

9779

5476

Leicestershire

3752

3603

3322

2865

Lincolnshire

*

*

*

1918

Merseyside

11330

11001

10197

8421

Metropolitan

49292

46546

46079

39901

Norfolk

3341

2772

2510

2201

North Wales

5559

4567

3420

2596

North Yorkshire

6240

5269

4566

3904

Northamptonshire

3069

2757

2594

2177

Northumbria

16460

13717

11407

9280

Nottinghamshire

7008

6114

5743

4640

South Wales

3525

2386

3948

2551

South Yorkshire

8974

7439

6235

5094

Staffordshire Police

5219

4438

4163

3316

Suffolk Police

4840

4376

3716

1684

Surrey Police

2913

2287

1955

1974

Sussex Police

7081

6653

5779

4564

Thames Valley Police

12288

10297

8012

6539

Warwickshire Police

2147

1774

1419

1050

West Mercia Police

7580

6458

5491

3442

West Midlands

23105

18397

14387

10487

West Yorkshire

19706

16233

12947

10600

Wiltshire

2395

2751

2262

1997

Total

315,923

279,677

240,760

206,902

 

*Service unable to provide data

Contact

Rob Preece

Press Officer

Tel: +44 (0)20 7241 7880

Email: robert.preece@howardleague.org

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