Child arrests in Wales fall by 60% since 2010, figures show

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The number of child arrests in Wales has fallen by about 60% in six years, figures have shown.

A total of 13,889 children aged 17 and under were arrested by Welsh forces in 2010 but the number fell to 5,462 in 2016.

Every Welsh force made fewer arrests in the period, with Dyfed Powys Police recording the largest drop at 78%.

All four forces said they were working with partners to try and stop children getting involved with crime.

Figures published by the Howard League for Penal Reform showed across England and Wales, the total number of arrests fell by 64% between 2010-2016 - from almost 250,000 in 2010 to 87,525 in 2016.

North Wales Police saw the smallest decrease at 55% while South Wales recorded a 56% decrease.

Gwent Police, which saw a 63% drop in the six years, said it had been working with council staff to provide "diversionary activities" for young people, so they have "meaningful ways to spend their spare time".

The figures for Wales also showed 12% or 766 fewer arrests of children were made in 2016 than in the previous year.

A Dyfed Powys Police spokesman said: "There is much more emphasis on early engagement with partner agencies, including youth offending and prevention services, with a view to intervene and prevent children coming through the criminal justice system, diverting them from criminal behaviour and challenging the root cause."

At Gwent Police, temporary deputy chief constable Pam Kelly said: "Whilst it's our duty to investigate all allegations of crime, regardless of the age of the suspects, we are conscious of ensuring that we are proportionate and fair when dealing with children."

North Wales' Supt Jane Banham said the force was working with agencies to "address the root causes of the offending behaviour and to repair the harm caused to victims".

South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Alun Michael said "early intervention and prompt positive action are at the very heart" of the force's crime reduction plan with "more effort and resource on tackling the root causes of harm and adversity, and on breaking this generational cycle of crime".

He added: "If we don't, we'll continue to struggle to pick up the pieces when it's far too late."

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