More than 70 children arrested by Thames Valley Police every week


The number of children arrested in the Thames Valley area has dropped by 69 per cent since 2008.

That’s according to figures released today by Howard League for Penal Reform, which reveals more than 70 children were arrested every week last year compared to 317 five years ago.

Arrests of children have fallen by 59 per cent across England and Wales, as research shows the total number declined from 318,053 to 129,274 between 2008 and 2013.

The law states children in England and Wales can be arrested by police from the age of 10, which is the lowest age of criminal responsibility in Western Europe.

And until April 2013 a 17-year-old was treated as an adult.

But despite the downward trend there was still one child arrested every four minutes last year.

In Thames Valley the total number of child arrests each year between 2008 and 2013 were 12,288, 10,297, 8,012, 6,539, 2,531 and 3,808.

During 2012 the Thames Valley data was limited to the period between May 15 and December 31 as the introduction of a new custody management database meant the force was unable to extract numbers from the system.

Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “It is encouraging to see that police have successfully reduced child arrests by a half since 2008, thanks in part to our effective campaigning.

“Most police services 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.”