CHILD arrests in the West Midlands and Warwickshire have fallen dramatically in six years, new figures show.
In Warwickshire, they are 58 per cent down on the 2010 rate – down from 1,419 to 597 children aged 17 and under.
And child arrests by West Midlands Police have fallen by two-thirds in that time – from 14,387 to 5,244.
The figures have been published by the charity Howard League for Penal Reform today (Monday 7 August).
The local picture is in line with trends in England and Wales, where arrests have fallen by 64 per cent – from a quarter of a million in 2010 to 87,525 in 2016.
A Howard League programme since 2010 has been working with police forces to keep as many boys and girls as possible out of the criminal justice system.
It says keeping children out of the criminal justice system helps prevent crime.
It adds: “Academic research has shown that the more contact a child has with the system, the more entrenched they are likely to become, which increases reoffending rates.”
Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, 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.
“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.”
Every police force in England and Wales made fewer child arrests in 2016 than in 2010, the charity points out.
All but four forces brought down their number of arrests by more than half.
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, says the charity.