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Friday, 28 November 2014

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1,871 kids arrested in county last year

THE number of children being arrested is an encouraging sign of how police are working to reduce crime among young people, says the superintendent for South Cumbria.

This week the Howard League for Penal Reform revealed children aged 17 and under were arrested an average of 36 times a week last year.

In total 1,871 children were arrested in Cumbria during 2011.

Earlier this week the league’s chief executive Frances Crook said she believed police had arrested children in the past to boost their figures and hit government targets.

However, Superintendent Mark Pannone said this was “factually incorrect” and police went through a “strict process” before deciding to arrest anyone.

He pointed out the number of people under 17 being arrested had dropped in the four years to 2012, from 3,360 in 2008 to 1,871 in 2011.

“If someone needs to be arrested we will do so regardless of age,” he said.

“But it is much harder to justify this necessity with children than with adults.”

Arresting young people actually had the potential to benefit them as it gave police the chance to refer them to other services, he said.

“By arresting someone, you actually provide a lot of protection for the arrested person with regards to rules governing their detention and disposal from custody,” said Supt Pannone.

“We are arresting fewer children because we are able to identify problems with our partner agencies.”

These agencies included the Youth Offending Service, which could take the children through the restorative justice process or give them help they needed with personal issues.

Of the young people included in the Howard League’s figures, he believed the majority of them would be teenagers rather than children who were 12 or under.

He said: “Is it necessary to arrest a 10-year-old? It depends on the circumstances, but is much harder to justify. We don’t arrest naughty children, we arrest criminals.”

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