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Charity Slams Dorset Police for Swabbing Children Despite Low Figures


9:29am 20th May 2013

Dorset has the lowest number of children subjected to DNA sampling in whole of the South West, according to figures out today (Monday 20th May).

But charity the Howard League of Penal Reform, who published the data, has accused Dorset Police of wasting money on swabbing innocent youngsters.

Dorset officers took swabs from 355 boys and girls aged 17 or under during 2011. They included three primary school-age children - one 10-year-old and two 11-year-olds. It's an average of 7 per week.

Howard League Chief Exec Francis Crook told Wessex FM our Police force should be tackling real crime and instead.

"It's bizarre that they - Dorset Police - would want to spend time and energy arresting children unnecessarily, who've probably haven’t done anything wrong or maybe have just been a bit naughty. We're hoping Police across the country will change their practices."

"They - Dorset Police - should be dealing with real, serious and violent crimes. If they come into contact with children they should be able to deal with them quickly and promptly, they shouldn't have to haul them to a Police station and take a DNA sample."

The Howward League says many of the children required to give a sample are never charged with a criminal offence.

In response Dorset Police has told us fewer young people are being arrested and less DNA samples are being taken from people under the age of 17.

Detective Superintendent Garrick Smith said: "As long ago as 2007, Dorset Police identified that worryingly high numbers of children and young persons were being arrested and finding themselves entering the criminal justice system.

"In response, and together with our local Youth Offending teams, Dorset Police introduced a Restorative Justice Scheme for young offenders, where they were required to face up to their offending by meeting with the victim. This has proved very successful and the Force has since made huge strides in reducing the numbers of children coming into custody and, consequently, the number of DNA samples taken from children has also fallen."

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