LANCASHIRE Police has been praised for slashing the number of girls it is arresting and keeping youngsters out of the criminal justice system.
The number of girls under 17 being locked up in the county has more than halved since 2008, and the force has been praised by a penal reform charity for not “criminalising” children.
In 2008 2,034 arrests were recorded in the county, but by 2011 that number had dropped to just 891. Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “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 challenge for police services now is to maintain this trend of arresting fewer children.”
Lancashire Police said it had not just seen a reduction in the number of girls being arrested but in the number of people overall, and said its approach was now much more “victim focused” .
Chief Insp Steve Sansbury, from Lancashire Police, said: “By law we are required to show that any arrest is necessary and consider whether the offence can be dealt with in an alternative way such as voluntary interviews, restorative justice or police resolution.
“We also listen closely to the views of victims, who sometimes don’t want to see a young girl being taken to court, but may want an apology, compensation, or for the offending behaviour just to stop.”