Arrests of children in South Yorkshire have fallen by 71 per cent in the last five years, new statistics have revealed.
South Yorkshire Police made 1,812 arrests of boys and girls aged 17 and under during 2015 - a big drop from the 6,235 child arrests made in 2010.
The reduction follows campaigning by the Howard League for Penal Reform to keep as many youngsters as possible out of the criminal justice system.
Across England and Wales, police made 102,666 arrests of boys and girls aged 17 and under last year – a 58 per cent reduction in half a decade.
South Yorkshire was one of ten forces that has achieved reductions of over 70 per cent since 2010.
Thirty-four forces brought down their number of child arrests by more than half, with every police force in England and Wales making fewer child arrests in 2015 than in 2010.
There were 874 arrests of primary school-age children in 2015, a reduction of 19 per cent from the previous year.
Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League, welcomed the new figures, saying: “I applaud South Yorkshire Police for their success in reducing child arrests. The Howard League is proud to have played its part in a significant change to the policing and life chances of children.
“It is particularly gratifying that, across England and Wales, the reduction in child arrests matches exactly the reduction in custody for children, and it is no coincidence.”
Ms Crook added: “We have stemmed the flow of children into the justice system and the consequential downward spiral into crime and custody.”
The statistics have been published in a Howard League briefing which shows how reducing the number of children being in the justice system has stemmed the flow of youngsters being locked up.
Between 2010 and 2015, the number of children in prison in England and Wales dropped by 58 per cent.