The number of child arrest figures in England and Wales has been reduced 71% – over 170,000- in the last ten years. A new report by the Howard League for Penal Reform showed a dramatic drop in the number of arrests of children aged 17 and under, from 245,763 in 2010 to 71,885 in 2019. Every force in England and Wales has reduced the number of child arrests in these past ten years.
The data also highlights inequalities for children black and minority ethnic backgrounds. Government figures show that black children are more than four times as likely as white children to be arrested. Whilst the proportion of white children arrested has fallen by 13% over the last 10 years, the proportion of Black children arrested has doubled to 16%.
In 2010, the Howard League launched its programme to reduce the high number of child arrests and since then has met with almost every force in the country.The group is calling for police forces to focus their attention on cutting the arrests of children from BAME backgrounds, victims of child criminal exploitation, and children living in residential children’s social care.
According to the Howard League, each contact a child has with the criminal justice system drags them deeper into it and it leads to more crime. ‘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,’ commented chief exec Frances Crook.