Police arrested 209,450 under-18s last year and 2,117 of them were aged just 10 – the age of criminal responsibility – and 11. Campaigners claim that only a quarter are sentenced for a criminal offence, with the rest being picked up for pranks and minor mischief.
Although the number of children being arrested is shocking, it has fallen by a third in the last four years, The Telegraph reports.
In one case four youngsters were arrested after throwing sticks at a tree and in another an 11 year-old, who called a classmate gay, was arrested on suspicion of a hate crime.
The Howard League for Penal Reform, which compiled the figures, claims that childhood arrests can result in some youngsters struggling to access further education and find work. Frances Crook from the Howard League said: “An arrest can blight a life and lead to a criminal record for just being naughty. Only a handful of children are involved in more serious incidents and they usually suffer from neglect, abuse or mental health issues.”
The Howard League suggested that the reason for the fall in the number of children being arrested was likely to be the move away from a mandatory target system for police. A spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers said: “As with adults, detention of children in custody is authorised for a number of reasons, including to further a criminal investigation, to uncover the identity of any suspects or because the disappearance of that person would hinder any prosecution.”
Have any of your pupils been arrested for just being naughty?