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More than 300 child arrests in eight years by West Mercia Police

By Lisa O'Brien | Crime | Published:

The police force covering Shropshire has made more than 300 arrests of children on school grounds in the last eight years, new figures show.

Allegations of rape, sex assaults, drug and weapon offences were among the reasons for the arrests, the data from West Mercia Police shows.

The children involved, aged between 10 and 17, were arrested in schools between January 2010 and September last year.

Police bosses say their staff work closely with schools and a number of measures have been introduced to ensure children are only arrested where there are no alternative options available.

Over the past eight years, figures show a total of 313 children were arrested on suspicion of 370 offences, many of them involving assaults and criminal damage.

But there were also five arrests on suspicion of rape, 17 for possession of Class A, B or C drugs, 14 for sexual assault and 10 for possessing an offensive weapon or article with a blade.

Children were also arrested on suspicion of arson, possessing indecent images of a child and robbery, among other offences.

Charges were brought against 93 individuals, with more than a third of the accused being 15-years-old.

More than 20 of the charges involved criminal damage and 32 were for assault by beating.

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Other children were charged with two rape offences and two sexual assault crimes, according to the figures, which were released following a freedom of information request.

West Mercia Police Assistant Chief Constable Martin Evans said: " West Mercia Police continues to work hard, alongside our partner agencies, to do all we can to keep the number of child arrests down.

"Our safer neighbourhood teams work in schools across West Mercia policing areas with partners and teachers to deliver programmes that keep children safe.

“Our staff are in schools most days with children and young people of all ages explaining the consequences of actions and highlighting how to stay safe.

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"We recognise the potentially damaging consequences the arrest of a child can have, and as such, a number of measures have been introduced to ensure children are only arrested where there are no alternative options available."

He said the police force encouraged officers to use their professional judgment and discretion so the most appropriate and proportionate response is given to each incident.

Assistant Chief Constable Evans added: "It is necessary however, to balance the need to find the best outcome for victims while also ensuring children are not unnecessarily criminalised, and have the opportunity to show remorse and learn from their mistakes.

"Restorative justice and community resolution outcomes are among the tools we use to help with this.

"This places an emphasis on working with the victims and offenders to find alternative solutions.

"However if children do commit serious offences, the public would expect us to act promptly to secure any evidence, and on occasions, an arrest will be necessary.

"Where a child is arrested, we do our utmost to ensure they are not detained for a longer period than is absolutely necessary."

Lisa O'Brien

By Lisa O'Brien
Senior Reporter - @lisaobrien_Star

Senior reporter based at Shropshire Star's head office in Ketley. Covering the Telford area.

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