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Surrey Police praised for arresting fewer girls
3:15pm Monday 18th March 2013 in Local News
Surrey Police has been praised by the UK's oldest penal reform charity for arresting fewer girls.
The Howard League for Penal Reform has welcomed figures it has obtained which show arrests of girls by Surrey Police fell by nearly half in three years.
The charity said its figures, gathered after it requested Freedom of Information data from all police services in England and Wales, showed Surrey officers made 317 arrests of girls aged 17 and younger during 2011.
It said this marked a significant drop of 46% compared to 2008, when 585 arrests were recorded. The following year, the total fell to 477, and dropped to 443 in 2010.
The data has been released with the Howard League launching a campaign aimed at keeping as many children as possible out of the criminal justice system.
Across England and Wales, police arrest almost 100 girls a day, although the over-all number has almost halved in three years.
Police recorded more than 34,000 arrests in 2011, compared with more than 62,000 in 2008.
Several police services in England and Wales have reviewed their arrest procedures and policies as a result of the Howard League’s involvement with them.
Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “It is encouraging to see that Surrey Police are making fewer arrests of girls than they were in 2008, thanks in part to our effective campaigning. “ She said: “A significant fall in the number of children entering the justice system is good news for everyone striving to reduce crime and saves the taxpayer untold millions.
“Our evidence shows that the police were arresting girls completely unnecessarily when they were out partying - often with the mistaken intention of protecting them. “Now the police are handing out flip-flops and helping the girls home - a much more sensible response.”
The statistics were published following a year-long inquiry on girls conducted by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Women in the Penal System. The inquiry found that responding to teenage girls’ behaviour too harshly or disproportionately can make it more likely that they will be drawn further into the justice system, leading to more serious problems.