The West Midlands has bucked the national trend and recorded a fall in the number of young offenders being dealt with by police and the courts in the last six years, it has been revealed.
In some areas of England and Wales, the number of under-18s being handled by the criminal justice system has nearly doubled in the same period.
Overall the number of young offenders being dealt with bhas jumped by more than a quarter in the last six years, the statistics showed. Figures gathered under the Freedom of Information Act by think-tank the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) showed a 27 per cent increase in the number of children and youths convicted or cautioned.
Only five out of 43 police force areas reported a fall in the number of children and youths dealt with since 2002 – the West Midlands, North and South Wales, City of London and Northamptonshire. The West Midlands saw a six per cent decrease in cautions and a seven per cent decrease in convictions. Cheshire saw a 95 per cent rise in cautions, and Sussex reported a 90 per cent increase in cautions.
There was also an 11 per cent increase in the number of adults dealt with by the criminal justice system in the same period.
The left-wing organisation concluded that young criminals should be punished by a panel of victims and other community representatives rather than being sent to court for less severe offences.
The new system of “community justice panels” would allow victims to “confront non-severe young offenders”, it said.
Criminal courts would then focus attention on severe crimes.
The new panels would focus on the offender “paying back” the victim and the community.