Campaigners praise police as 80% fewer children arrested in Wales
Arrests of children have fallen 80% in Wales in a decade, from 13,889 in 2010 to only 2,756 last year, according to figures compiled by campaigners.
The Howard League for Penal Reform said that it was a major step forward in their campaign to reduce child arrests.
The campaign group said they had worked with police since 2010 to ensure that hundreds of thousands of boys and girls under 17 do not have their lives blighted by a criminal record.
North Wales saw a fall from 3,420 to 475 arrests, South Wales from 5,659 to 1,337, Dyfed-Powys from 2,307 to 318, and Gwent from 2,503 to 626.
South Wales was one of nine police forces that saw a more than 20% reduction between 2019 and 2020, with a fall of 27%.
Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “Every child deserves the chance to grow and fulfil their potential, and we must do all we can to ensure that they are not held back by a criminal record.
“A decade of success for the Howard League’s programme to reduce child arrests has given hundreds of thousands of children a brighter future. Police forces have made giant strides, diverting resources to tackling serious crime instead of arresting children unnecessarily, and this approach will help to make our communities safer.
“As we begin to emerge from the pandemic, and as police forces recruit thousands more officers, the challenge now is to build on this success and reduce arrests still further. Keeping up the momentum will enable even more children to thrive.”
Across Wales and England arrests reduced from 245,763 in 2010 to 63,272 in 2020. Arrests of children saw a 74% fall across Wales and England. Justice is not a devolved issue and justice in Wales and England are under the control of the UK Government.
Police forces also achieved a significant reduction in arrests of primary school-aged children – boys and girls aged 11 and under – from 392 in 2019 to 261 in 2020.