Wales

Child arrests 'almost halved' in Wales since 2010

All four Welsh forces cut the number of children arrested by almost half in five years Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption All four Welsh forces cut the number of children arrested by almost half in five years

Police in Wales have almost halved the number of child arrests made over the last five years, according to a penal reform charity.

Figures from the Howard League show Dyfed-Powys Police had the biggest reduction of 73% since 2010.

The charity said limiting child arrests prevented a "downward spiral into crime and custody."

Across Wales, police made 6,228 child arrests during 2015, a 44% reduction since 2010.

However, both North Wales and Gwent forces saw the number of under-17s arrested increase between 2014 and 2015, although both have seen overall figures fall by more than half across the period.

South Wales Police figures fell by nearly half from 5,659 in 2010 to 2,854 in 2015.

'Gratifying'

During 2015, Dyfed-Powys Police made 625 arrests of children aged 17 and under, compared to 2010, when they made 2,307.

Frances Crook, the charity's chief executive, said the decrease could be attributed to better use of resources, the removal of national targets, improved staff training, and support from communities.

She added: "I applaud Dyfed-Powys Police for their success.

"It is particularly gratifying that, across England and Wales, the reduction in child arrests matches exactly the reduction in custody for children, and it is no coincidence.

"We have stemmed the flow of children into the justice system and the consequential downward spiral into crime and custody."

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption A reduction in child arrests is necessary to "halt the decline into custody"

Ms Crook said that "more work needed to be done" in Gwent, where the number of child arrests increased from 980 to 1,172 between 2014 and 2015.

Overall, the force has seen a 46% drop in child arrests since 2010.

"It is a little disappointing that Gwent Police have not maintained the momentum in the last year," she added.

"We are looking forward to working with them to address this challenge."

Gwent Police's Det Supt Roger Fortey said: "It's the duty of the police to investigate all allegations of crime, regardless of the age of the suspects and arrests are made where appropriate. We are however conscious of ensuring we are proportionate and fair in our dealings with young people.

"We appreciate that there is still work to do in Gwent following an increase in child arrests last year, however, overall since 2010 we have seen reductions in both the arrests of children and numbers of children in custody."

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