74 per cent fall in children arrested in Cambridgeshire in five years

12:42 27 May 2014

Cambridgeshire Police

Cambridgeshire Police

Archant

Arrests of children in Cambridgeshire have fallen by 74 per cent in five years.

Figures obtained by the Howard League for Penal Reform, who campaign to keep children out of the criminal justice system, reveal the number of children arrested by Cambs Police dropped from 4,054 in 2008 to 1,067 in 2013.

Only five forces in the country arrested fewer children last year.

Chief Constable Simon Parr said the “huge reduction” in the number of children arrested in the past few years had coincided with the introduction of restorative justice and a drive towards using more effective and appropriate ways of dealing with young offenders.

He said: “It is great news that the number of children reaching the age of 18 in Cambridgeshire with a criminal record has dropped so dramatically.

“In most cases, we do not believe custody is a place for children because there are more effective methods which actually reduce the chances of re-offending.

“Restorative justice, which is often used when dealing young first-time offenders, gives an officer the opportunity to resolve a situation successfully, with the approval of the victim, without arresting and criminalising the person responsible.

“The process gives victims the chance to tell offenders the real impact of their crime, to get answers to questions and an apology, while offenders are given the chance to take responsibility for what they’ve done and make amends but not acquire the stigma of a criminal record.”

Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “It is encouraging to see that Cambs Police are making significantly fewer arrests of children than they were in 2008.

“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.”

Child arrest figures for Cambridgeshire

2008: 4,054

2009: 3,795

2010: 3,440

2011: 2,099

2012: 1,473

2013: 1,067

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