Thanet children as young as 12 have been arrested over the last two years for crimes of assault and youngsters under 18 have also been arrested for possession of a weapon.
Information supplied by Kent Police following a Freedom of Information request reveals some 216 arrests of isle under 18s have been made in the financial years of 2017/18 and 2018/19 for crimes such as assault -including abh and gbh – and possession of a weapon.
In June last year a Margate 14-year-old was arrested for possession of an imitation firearm although they were released without charge after a decision that prosecution would serve no useful process. A 16-year-old in Birchington was also arrested for possessing an imitation firearm last October. The teen was bailed with conditions attached. In 2018/9 there were four other arrests for possession of a weapon with the youngest suspect being 14. The previous year 11 youngsters under 18 were arrested on offensive weapon charges.
In 2018/19 103 arrests were made of Thanet 12 to 17-year-olds for assault, including racially aggravated and assault on police.
The previous year 96 arrests of Thanet youngsters in the same age group were made for assault offences.
Of the 107 arrests for assault or weapon offences in 2017/18, 50 are recorded as the suspect being released without charge. In 2018/19 there were 109 arrests for assault and offensive weapon offences with 51 released without charge or refused charge.
In a number of cases restorative justice – where the offender meets with the victim – was used.
The remaining arrests resulted in charge, caution, postal requisition or transfer of the suspect to another force.
Chief Inspector Lara Connor for Thanet said assault offences included incidents of verbal threats where no injuries were incurred.
She added: “There are other cases where threats are made with the use of a weapon or someone has been injured and officers take a proactive approach in targeting people of all ages across the county who carry weapons.
“We regularly carry out operations to reduce knives and other weapons on the streets and work in conjunction with partner agencies on education and intervention to encourage young people to make better life choices.
“Not all reported assaults involving young people from Thanet are a direct result of being involved in county line drug dealing. However we recognise there is a minority of young people at risk of exploitation and safeguarding children remains a priority for us.
“In some circumstances the best course of action following an arrest is restorative justice, particularly amongst young people. This action always takes into account the victim’s wishes and helps ensure offenders understand the consequences of their actions without going through the courts.”