CHILDREN in Gloucestershire were arrested 27 times a week on average last year, according to new figures.

New research for the Howard League for Penal Reform shows officers made 1,412 arrests of boys and girls aged 17 and under during 2011.

But since the launch of the charity’s campaign to reduce the number of child arrests, the figures have fallen 54 per cent since 2008, when 3,035 were recorded.

Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “It is very pleasing to see that Gloucestershire Police is arresting fewer children than it has in the past.

“I hope this trend continues. Children who get into trouble are more often than not just being challenging teenagers and how we respond to this nuisance behaviour could make a difference for the rest of their lives.

“An arrest can blight a life and lead to a criminal record for just being naughty. The positive change in policing children will release resources to deal with real crimes.”

More than one million child arrests have been made in England and Wales since 2008, but this figure has fallen by a third between 2008 and 2011.

The campaign’s success and the way forward will be discussed at the Howard League’s Policing and Children Conference in Birmingham on Thursday.