Arrests of children have fallen by 71 per cent in the county in the last six years, according to figures published by a national charity.

Arrests of children have fallen by 71 per cent in the county in the last six years, according to figures published by a national charity.

Cambridgeshire police made 1,013 arrests of children aged 17 and under last year, compared to 3,440 in 2010.

The Howard League for Penal Reform said the trend falls in line with the rest of Britain where the total number of arrests has fallen by 64 per cent – from almost 250,000 in 2010 to 87,525 in 2016.

Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League, said: “For the sixth year running, we have seen a significant reduction in child arrests across the country.

“This is a tremendous achievement, and we will continue to support police forces to develop their good practice and reduce the number to an absolute minimum.

“Cambridgeshire police should be applauded for their positive approach, and the Howard League is proud to have played its part in a transformation that will make our communities safer.

“By working together, we are ensuring that tens of thousands of children will have a brighter future and not be dragged into a downward spiral of crime and custody.

“Keeping children out of the criminal justice system helps prevent crime. Academic research has shown that the more contact a child has with the system, the more entrenched they are likely to become, which increases re-offending rates.”

The statistics underline the success of a major Howard League programme, which involves working with police forces to keep as many boys and girls as possible out of the criminal justice system, he said.

The total number of arrests has fallen every year since the campaign began in 2010.

Nationwide, there were 703 arrests of primary-age children (10 and 11-year-olds) in 2016, a reduction of 18 per cent from the previous year.

Between 2010 and 2016, the number of children in prison in England and Wales fell by 58 per cent.

As in 2015, arrests of girls are falling at a faster rate than arrests of boys. Police recorded a 69 per cent drop in girls' arrests between 2010 and 2016, and the number of girls in penal custody fell by 78 per cent during the same period.

Child arrests in Cambridgeshire

2010: 3,440

2011: 2,099

2012: 1,473

2013: 1,067

2014: 1,060

2015: 979

2016: 1,013