The number of children arrested by police across Yorkshire has seen a dramatic 75 per cent fall in the last eight years as latest figures show a major campaign to keep young people out of the criminal justice system is having a lasting impact.
The four Yorkshire police forces arrested 7,278 boys and girls aged 17 and under in 2018, compared to 29,458 in 2010 when the Howard League for Penal Reform launched a major campaign to reduce child arrests.
Academic research has shown that each contact a child has with the criminal justice system drags them deeper into it, leading to more crime and the Howard League is working with police forces across England and Wales to keep as many children as possible out of the system in the first place.
Yorkshire's largest police force - West Yorkshire Police - made 3,697 arrests of boys and girls aged 17 and under in 2018. This compares to 3,953 in the previous year and 12,947 back in 2010.
The figures for Yorkshire are in line with the national trend. Data from more than 40 police forces show that they made 70,078 arrests of children in 2018 – a reduction of more than 70 per cent from almost 250,000 in 2010.
Across England and Wales, the total number of child arrests has been reduced every year since the campaign began. Over the same period, the number of children in prison has been reduced by 63 per cent.
Arrests of primary school-age children have been reduced significantly. There were 383 arrests of 10- and 11-year-olds in 2018, a reduction of 38 per cent from the previous year.
Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “Tens of thousands of children can look forward to a brighter future without their lives being blighted by police contact and a criminal record.
“West Yorkshire 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.”
The largest police force in the country, the Metropolitan Police, made 13,791 arrests of children in 2018. This was a 22 per cent reduction on the previous year, when 17,672 arrests were made, and a 70 per cent reduction on 2010, when there were 46,079.
Other forces to record significant reductions between 2017 and 2018 included Gwent (38 per cent), Bedfordshire (28 per cent), Cumbria (27 per cent), North Wales (24 per cent), Kent (23 per cent), Cleveland (19 per cent), West Mercia (19 per cent) and Durham (18 per cent).
Some police forces recorded an increase in arrests between 2017 and 2018. The Howard League is studying the figures and hopes to meet with these forces to explore how the number of arrests can be reduced in future.