‘Significant’ drop in Leeds youth crime cautions

File photo by John Powell / Rex Features

Young people in Leeds are significantly less likely to be cautioned or convicted for a first offence than they were ten years ago.

Changes in police policy and an overall fall in crime has seen a 90 per cent drop in the number of youngsters entering the criminal justice system, according to statistics from the Ministry of Justice.

In the 2006/07 financial year, 1,978 children aged between 10 and 17 were convicted or cautioned by police for the first time, but by 2016/17 there were just 190.

The data is taken from a national police database and records a young person’s first caution or conviction but does not include repeat offenders.

The MoJ also calculates a rate of first time offenders to allow comparison between different police forces and local authorities.

In Leeds, police cautioned or convicted 292 children for every 100,000 in the area which is roughly in line with the England and Wales average of 312.

Commenting on the figures, John Drew, senior associate at the Prison Reform Trust charity, said: “In the early noughties, the government imposed a lot of centrally managed crime targets, which didn’t differentiate between low and high-level offences, so the number of children in the system increased dramatically.”

“Over the last decade, we’ve come to realise that when a child is taken into the criminal justice system, it can have a number of seriously damaging effects. Agencies have got much better at working with children before they offend, or when they’ve committed lower level offences.”

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