Arrests of children by Cheshire Police have fallen by 37% in the last six years, a new report reveals.

Research by the Howard League for Penal Reform charity found that the force made 1,187 arrests of children aged 17 and under last year, down from 1,870 in 2010. 

Across England and Wales, the total number of arrests has fallen by 64 per cent in six years – from almost 250,000 in 2010 to 87,525 in 2016.

Since 2010, a major Howard League programme has been running which involves working with police forces to keep as many children as possible out of the criminal justice system.

The total number of arrests has fallen every year since.

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.

“Cheshire Police should be applauded for its positive approach. The Howard League is proud to have played its part in a transformation which will make our communities safer. Working together we are ensuring 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. All but four forces brought down their number of arrests by more than half.

Nationwide, there were 703 arrests of children aged 10 and 11 in 2016, a reduction of 18 per cent from the previous year.

The figures have been published in a Howard League briefing, Child arrests in England and Wales 2016, which shows how reducing the number of children entering the system has stemmed their flow into custody. 

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 boys. Police recorded a 69% drop in girls’ arrests between 2010 and 2016, and the number of girls in penal custody fell by 78% during the same period.

Cheshire Police child arrest figures:

2010: 1,870

2011: 1,904

2012: 1,508

2013: 1,269

2014: 1,266

2015: 1,292

2016: 1,187