Arrests of children by Lincolnshire Police have fallen by 61 per cent in the last seven years, figures newly published by the Howard League for Penal Reform have revealed.
Research by the charity has found that the force made 745 arrests of children aged 17 and under last year, down from 1,911 in 2011.
Assistant Chief Constable Kerrin Wilson said: “This is good news. It shows our effective work with partners is making real positive change for the children we deal with and ultimately, giving them a chance for the future.
“Our process is now well-practiced and proven to be effective. It means children can take responsibility for bad behaviour without being criminalised. We have a chance to engage young minds and offer people an alternative, which will hopefully lead them towards making good choices rather than entering the system and committing more and more crimes, of escalating severity.
“In 2017, the local authority and police launched a joint protocol aimed at reducing criminalisation of children. We have police officers working embedded with the Youth Offending Service, and have seen the successful expansion of the ‘Joint Diversionary Panel’, which ensures that all children who come into contact with the criminal justice system are dealt with proportionately and, where possible, diverted away from formal criminal justice sanctions. This is entirely right because not only can alternative restorative solutions change behaviours and prevent offending but we also know from feedback from victims that this a positive approach.
“This joint protocol has also examined cases involving looked after children, to prevent these young people being misrepresented simply as offenders. The protocol gives agencies and care homes alike the tools and guidance to deal with children and provide meaningful positive interventions to ensure that children do not become unnecessarily involved in the Criminal Justice System.
“This work has been implemented against a backdrop of well-established and successful partnership arrangements, with the strong leadership of the Lincolnshire Children’s Safeguarding Board, Children’s Services and Youth Offending Service from Lincolnshire County Council, and Lincolnshire Police.
“We will continue this partnership work to ensure that we are always assessing and addressing how we deal with children and reach a resolution that is in the interests of the individuals themselves and the wider public.”
The figures for Lincolnshire are in line with the national trend. Data from more than 40 police forces show that they made 70,078 arrests of children in 2018 – a reduction of more than 70 per cent from almost 250,000 in 2010.
Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “Tens of thousands of children can look forward to a brighter future without their lives being blighted by police contact and a criminal record.
“Lincolnshire Police and other forces up and down the country have diverted resources to tackling serious crime instead of arresting naughty children. This will make communities safer, and the Howard League is proud to have played its part.
“Building on this success and reducing the number of arrests still further would allow even more children to thrive.”
Child arrest figures for Lincolnshire Police