The number of children arrested by the Metropolitan Police has fallen by more than half over the last six years, new figures revealed.

The police force made a total of 20,387 arrests of young people aged 17 and under last year, down from 46,079 in 2010.

This means there has been a 56% decline in the number of boys and girls cuffed, according to the research figures published by the Howard League for Penal Reform.

Data across England and Wales showed the total number of arrests dropped by 64% in six years – from almost 250,000 in 2010 to 87,525 in 2016 - with a child arrested every six minutes.

The statistics show a year-on-year fall in arrests in every police force in the country.

The fall has been attributed to the Howard League programme which began in 2010, working with police forces to keep as many young people as possible out of the criminal justice system.


Number of children arrested by Met Police

2010 46,079
2011 39,901
2012 30,155
2013 26,442
2014 23,402
2015 22,328
2016 20,387

Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “For the sixth year running, we have seen a significant reduction in child arrests across the country.

"This is a tremendous achievement, and we will continue to support police forces to develop their good practice and reduce the number to an absolute minimum.

“The Metropolitan Police should be applauded for their positive approach, and the Howard League is proud to have played its part in a transformation that will make our communities safer.

“By working together, we are ensuring that tens of thousands of children will have a brighter future and not be dragged into a downward spiral of crime and custody.”

The statistics also show all but four forces in the country brought down their arrests of children by more than a half.

Nationwide, there were 703 arrests of primary-age children (10 and 11-year-olds) in 2016, a reduction of 18% from the previous year.

The number of children arrested by the Metropolitan Police has fallen by 56% over six years

Keeping children out of the criminal justice system helps prevent crime, the Howard League for Penal Reform said

The organisation said academic research has shown the more contact a child has with the system, the more entrenched they are likely to become, which increases reoffending rates.

In addition, figures revealed the number of children in prison in England and Wales declined by 58% over the six year period.

According to the data, arrests of girls are falling at a quicker pace than the arrests of boys.

The Howard League regularly meets with forces to share examples of good practice in local areas.

For example, Surrey Police has trained all custody and frontline staff, focusing on reducing the number of children arrested.

It also ran an internal campaign to encourage people to see the "child first and the offence second."

Meanwhile Thames Valley Police is one of many to have a system in place whereby an inspector reviews every child arrest.

Howard League says there is more work to be done.

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