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Friday, 25 July 2014

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Big drop in number of children arrested across Cumbria

The number of arrests of children in Cumbria has fallen by more than 40 per cent in five years.

Gordon Rutherford photo
Chief inspector Gordon Rutherford

New figures show there were 1,964 arrests featuring suspects aged 17 and under in 2008, with this total dropping to 1,125 last year.

The county force has welcomed the fall, saying schemes such as “restorative justice” – where offenders answer to face their victims – have played a part.

Recent police statistics show re-offending rates by those who accept responsibility for a lower-level crime and meet the victim are down, compared to those given a reprimand.

The arrest figures were issued by the Howard League for Penal Reform, a national charity that says it aims for less crime and fewer people in prison. It adds the drop follows a successful campaign it carried out to keep as many children as possible out of the criminal justice system.

Chief Inspector Gordon Rutherford, of Cumbria police’s criminal justice unit, said: “We are pleased to see that there has been a fall in the number of children arrested across the county.

“The reduction in the number of arrests indicates that initiatives such as restorative justice are working and young people are being diverted from entering the criminal justice system.

“However, we recognise that there is still more to be done to bring this figure down even further.

“We work closely with partner agencies, such as children’s services, in a bid to make sure that the number of children involved in criminal activity is as low as possible.”

The Howard League says police services across the country have reviewed their arrest procedures and policies as a result of the charity’s work.

Last year police in England and Wales made 129,274 arrests involving children.

Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League, said: “It is encouraging to see that Cumbria Police is making significantly fewer arrests of children than officers 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.”

Children in England and Wales can be arrested by police from the age of 10.

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