Police praised over a dramatic drop in number of child arrests

    THE number of children being arrested in Kent has fallen sharply in the last six years, a respected campaign group has revealed.
    According to figures released by The Howard League for Penal Reform, the oldest organisation of its kind in the world, Kent Police presided over a 61 per cent decline in child arrests between 2010 and 2016. The number of children aged 17 and under that were arrested fell from 7,505 to 2,900.
    The statistics underline the success of a major Howard League programme launched in 2010, which involves working with police forces to keep as many boys and girls as possible out of the criminal justice system.
    Across the UK, the organisation said every force was making fewer arrests and the number of children in prison in England and Wales fell by 58 per cent.
    Keeping children out of the criminal justice system helps prevent crime. Academic research has shown that the more contact a child has with the system, the more entrenched they are likely to become, which increases re-offending rates.
    Howard League Chief Executive Frances Crook said: “For the sixth year running, we have seen a significant reduction in child arrests. This is a tremendous achievement.
    “Kent Police should be applauded for their positive approach, and the Howard
    League is proud to have played its part in a transformation that will make our communities safer.
    “By working together, we are ensuring that tens of thousands of children
    will have a brighter future and not be dragged into a downward spiral of crime and custody.”
    Superintendent Tim Cook from Kent Police said: “We’re pleased the figures show that Kent is following the national trend for fewer children ending up in
    police custody. “The arrest of a suspect, especially a minor, should be considered as a last resort, and is dependent upon the seriousness of the offence and demeanour of the person.
    “Officers do explore appropriate alternatives to arrest wherever possible and we continue to review our custody practices to ensure the safest and most appropriate care for those arrested. “We work with other areas of the criminal justice system, such as youth offending teams and the courts service, to look at ways we can best deal with youths who enter the criminal justice system.
    “Our officers also work closely with community safety partnerships across Kent and Medway to engage with young people and support the provision of diversionary activities that keep them safe and away from crime.
    “Within the last year we’ve also had an excellent response to our Police Cadet Scheme with just over 100 youngsters now volunteering every week and working to support their communities.”