Drop in Wales child arrests by over 40% welcomed

Image caption Frances Crook said only a handful of arrested children were involved in 'more serious incidents'

A charity says the number of children being arrested in Wales has fallen by over 40% in four years.

The Howard League for Penal Reform says 8,953 children under 17 were apprehended by Wales' four forces in 2011, a fall of 41% since 2008.

In north Wales, the number fell by 53%, compared to 45% in Dyfed Powys, 32% in Gwent and 28% in south Wales.

The charity welcomed the reduction, saying arrests could blight lives just for "being naughty".

Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said children often provided a "seductive way" to make up arrest numbers.

She added: "Children who get into trouble are more often than not just being challenging teenagers and how we respond to this nuisance behaviour could make a difference for the rest of their lives.

"An arrest can blight a life and lead to a criminal record for just being naughty.

"The positive change in policing children will release resources to deal with real crimes.

"Only a handful of children are involved in more serious incidents and they usually suffer from neglect, abuse or mental health issues.

"A commitment to public safety means treating them as vulnerable children and making sure they get the help they need to mature into law-abiding citizens."

Across England and Wales, police made more than 209,000 arrests of boys and girls aged 17 and under last year.

It includes 2,117 arrests of children who were aged 10 or 11.

The number of arrests across England and Wales fell by a third between 2008 and 2011.

Girls account for about a fifth of arrests each year, 207,808 between 2008 and 2011.

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