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2,000 primary pupils arrested for naughtiness
More than 209,000 young people were detained by police in England and Wales last year with 2,117 under the age of 11. But campaigners claim just a quarter of those children arrested are ever sentenced for a criminal offence, with most being picked up for indulging in pranks and minor mischief.
In one case in Sussex, four youngsters were swooped upon by police after throwing sticks at a horse chestnut tree and in another case in Cheshire an 11-year-old schoolboy was arrested on suspicion of a hate-crime after calling a classmate gay.
While the number of childhood arrests has fallen in recent years, The Howard League for Penal Reform claims childhood arrests can lead to numerous problems later in life with some youngsters struggling to access further education and even find work.
Researchers have also suggested that being introduced to the criminal justice system at a young age can lead to children becoming entrenched in the culture rather than put off following a life of crime.
Frances Crook, the chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, 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. Only a handful of children are involved in more serious incidents and they usually suffer from neglect abuse or mental health issues.”