POLICE chiefs in South Yorkshire say they are ‘committed’ to reducing the number of children arrested – in a bid to prevent youngsters being ‘criminalised’.
The comments came after the Howard League for Penal Reform released figures showing the force arrested 5,094 youngsters aged 10 to 17 last year, down from 6,235 in 2010, 7,438 in 2009 and 8,974 in 2008.
A South Yorkshire Police spokesman said: “We are committed to reducing the number of children and young people arrested and this is reflected in the figures.
“We have had an active force policy for a number of years to work closely with schools to ensure any minor offences are dealt with through the school’s own disciplinary procedures.
“In addition, we are making good use of restorative justice to avoid criminalising young people and to deal with minor offences swiftly and appropriately.
“We strongly believe in preventing children becoming involved in crime in the first place.
“We encourage all our PCSOs to engage with their local primary schools through our adopt a school policy and last year we provided Crime and Consequences awareness sessions to more than 12,500 children aged 10 and 11.”
The Howard League for Penal Reform said it was ‘pleasing’ to see South Yorkshire Police arresting fewer children, claiming an arrest can ‘blight’ a life.