An average of 6 primary school children aged ten and eleven were arrested daily last year (more than 2000 in total), for doing what kids do best. Being naughty.
The Charity, Howard League for Penal Reform is concerned about this and wants to reduce the number of children arrested each year. Chief Frances Crook said “Children who get into trouble are more often than not just being challenging teenagers and how we respond to this nuisance behaviour could make a difference for the rest of their lives. An arrest can blight a life and lead to a criminal record for just being naughty.” Ms Crook called for a change in the way these children are handled and suggested that this change would free up the police to deal with real crime. She went on to say “Only a handful of children are involved in serious incidents and they usually suffer from neglect, abuse or mental health issues. A commitment to public safety means treating them as vulnerable and ensuring they get the help they need.”
In 2008, 315,923 children under the age of 18 were arrested and 2012 saw this reduced to 209,450 last year, around one fifth of which were girls. Most arrests were for public order offences.
The figures were made available after a Freedom of Information request by the charity which revealed that children were being detained in police cells because officers thought they were mentally ill. There were 374 children as young as 11 held under the Mental Health Act in England and Wales in 2011.