Cleveland Police has welcomed new figures showing a huge decrease in the number of children it arrests.
Figures collated by the Howard League for Penal Reform show the number of under 17 year olds arrested by the force has fallen by 83% in eight years.
760 boys and girls aged 17 and under were arrested in Cleveland in 2018-2019. This compares to 936 in the previous year and 4,367 back in 2010, when the Howard League launched a major campaign to reduce child arrests nationwide.
Cleveland Police, like forces across England and Wales, works with the Howard League to keep as many children as possible out of the criminal justice system.
The news is welcomed by Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger: “It’s reassuring to see Cleveland Police have dramatically cut the number of children being arrested. We know that arrest is not an effective way to address the underlying reasons for offending behaviour in young people.
“I’ve invested in a range of initiatives which aim to intervene in youth offending at the earliest stage, preventing children entering the criminal justice system and giving them a second chance to make more positive life choices.
"This has included supporting three School Liaison Officers, to work positively in schools with local children and Early Intervention Officers, to focus on those children and families at risk of offending. I’ve also invested in programmes using sport to divert youngsters, with organisations like Show Racism the Red Card, the MFC Foundation Kicks project, and the Street Games initiative.
“Through the Government’s Early Intervention Youth Fund, I’ve doubled investment in youth outreach services across Cleveland, supporting children in crime and antisocial behaviour hot-spots and diverting them to a range of youth services in their area.
“I’ve also continued to invest in Youth Offending Services, where young people can now access speech and language therapy, and a range of life coaching and counselling services to help them rebuild damaged relationships, move forward with their lives and participate in a positive future."
Chief Constable Richard Lewis said: “I very much welcome the figures released today. They’re testament to our determined efforts and ongoing commitment to finding other ways of working with children who come into contact with police.
"Simply arresting children, who are often vulnerable, could have a negative effect on their future so using alternative means is something we will continue to do.
“I’m meeting with the Howard League for Penal Reform early next year and I look forward to discussing how we can keep this momentum going."
Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, added: “Tens of thousands of children can look forward to a brighter future without their lives being blighted by police contact and a criminal record.
“Cleveland Police and other forces up and down the country have diverted resources to tackling serious crime instead of arresting naughty children. This will make communities safer, and the Howard League is proud to have played its part.
“Building on this success and reducing the number of arrests still further would allow even more children to thrive.”
Read more about the Howard League for Penal Reform's research here: https://howardleague.org/news/child-arrests-in-england-and-wales-reduced-by-more-than-70-per-cent/
Posted on Monday 9th December 2019