Child arrests in South Yorkshire down by 77 per cent
The number of children arrested by South Yorkshire Police has reduced by 77 per cent over nine years.
Figures released by the Howard League for Penal Reform, which is campaigning to keep boys and girls out of the criminal justice system to avoid their lives being blighted by a criminal record, shows there were 6,235 arrested in 2010 and 1,465 in 2019.
Nationally there has been a 71 per cent reduction in the number of arrests of children aged 17 and under – from 245,763 in 2010 to 71,885 in 2019.
Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “Every child deserves the chance to grow and fulfil their potential, and we must do all we can to ensure that they are not held back by a criminal record.
“The Howard League’s programme to reduce child arrests has shown what can be achieved by working together. Police forces have diverted resources to tackling serious crime instead of arresting children unnecessarily, and this means hundreds of thousands of boys and girls can look forward to a brighter future.
“After a successful decade spent embedding good practice across England and Wales, the challenge now is to keep up the momentum and reduce arrests still further. The Howard League will continue to support forces to make communities safer and allow more children to thrive.”
Although 22 police forces, including South Yorkshire Police, recorded increases in child arrests between 2018 and 2019, their numbers were much lower than when the Howard League’s campaign began in 2010.
A number of forces said the rise was partly related to operations to tackle ‘county lines’ drug dealing gangs, where children are exploited to sell drugs in new areas as gangs move onto new territory to expand their reach.
Instead of being treated as victims, some children are being arrested because of their involvement.
Government figures show that black children are more than four times as likely as white children to be arrested. The proportion of white children arrested has fallen by 13 per cent over the last 10 years, while the proportion of black children arrested has doubled to 16 per cent.