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 The number of children arrested has fallen by three quarters in last seven years


THE number of children arrested in County Durham and Darlington has fallen by almost three quarters in the last seven years.

According to research compiled by the Howard League For Penal Reform, 1009 children aged 17 and under were arrested by officers from Durham Constabulary last year, down from 3,658 in 2010 – a fall of 72 per cent in seven years.

Across England and Wales there has been a 68 per cent fall over the same period, down from 250,000 to just over 79,000.

The figures mean thousands of children have a better chance in life because they are no longer saddled with a criminal record at a young age.

Instead, they are being asked to take responsibility for their actions by taking part in Restorative Justice schemes, often including face-to-face contact with their victims.

Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: "This is the seventh year in a row that we have seen a significant reduction in the number of child arrests across England and Wales, and Durham Police's positive approach has contributed to that transformation. 

"It is a phenomenal achievement by the police and the Howadr League, and it means that tens of thousands of children will have a brighter future without their life chances being blighted by unnecessary police contact and criminal records". 

Acting Detective Superintendent Traci McNally, of Durham Constabulary, said the force was pleased with progress in the area.

“We have worked hard in recent years, in partnership with agencies such as the Youth Offending Service, as we recognise the negative impact on young people’s life chances of being criminalised at an early age.

“We encourage the use of Restorative Approaches as a mechanism for resolving low level criminality for young people which is a means by which they can be encouraged to reflect upon their behaviour and to provide some reparation for the victim as an alternative to a criminal justice outcome.

“Often victims achieve much greater satisfaction with this as an approach as well.

“This is about doing the right thing for both the victim and the young person.

“The number of first time entrants into the criminal justice system continues to fall and we feel that this is an absolutely positive thing”.

David Summers from the County Durham Youth Offending Service added: “A comprehensive range of agencies work in partnership, co-ordinated by County Durham Youth Offending Service, to assess all young people who first come to the attention of the police and ensure that the causes of them being at risk of committing crimes are dealt with firmly and quickly.

“Young people are encouraged to work with us to design the programmes they believe will help them avoid crime and together we carry out the programmes of work”.