South Yorkshire child arrests fall

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Arrests of children by South Yorkshire Police have fallen by 70 per cent in five years, according to new figures.

Police data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show the number of arrests in South Yorkshire dropped from 8,974 in 2008 to 2,693 in 2013.

The figure has dropped year on year since 2008.

The Howard League for Penal Reform campaigns to keep as many children as possible out of the criminal justice system.

Police services across the country have reviewed their arrest procedures and policies as a result of the charity’s campaign.

Last year, police forces in England and Wales made 129,274 arrests of children aged 17 and under - including 1,107 arrests of children who were aged 10 or 11.

In total, police made more than 1.3 million arrests of children between January 2008 and December 2013.

Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “It is encouraging to see that South Yorkshire Police are making significantly fewer arrests of children than they were in 2008, thanks in part to our effective campaigning.

“Most police services in England and Wales have developed successful local initiatives that resolve issues quickly and cheaply, involve victims in the justice process and, crucially, avoid criminalising boys and girls.

“A sharp fall in the number of children entering the justice system is good news for everyone striving to reduce crime and saves the taxpayer untold millions.

“The challenge for police now is to maintain this trend. At a time of austerity, further reducing the number of children arrested would free up more officer time to deal with serious crimes.”