ARRESTS of children by Gloucestershire Police have fallen by 70 per cent in five years.

Figures obtained by the Howard League for Penal Reform reveal the number of arrests in the county dropped from 3,035 in 2008 to 920 in 2013.

It follows a successful Howard League campaign aimed at keeping as many children as possible out of the criminal justice system.

Police services across the country have reviewed their arrest procedures and policies as a result of the charity’s engagement with them.

Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “It is encouraging to see that Gloucestershire Police are making significantly fewer arrests of children than they were in 2008, thanks in part to our effective campaigning.

“Most police services in England and Wales have developed successful local initiatives that resolve issues quickly and cheaply, involve victims in the justice process and, crucially, avoid criminalising boys and girls.

“A sharp fall in the number of children entering the justice system is good news for everyone striving to reduce crime and saves the taxpayer untold millions.

“The challenge for police now is to maintain this trend. At a time of austerity, further reducing the number of children arrested would free up more officer time to deal with serious crimes.”

Figures from the charity also show the number of arrests made by Warwickshire Police dropped from 2,147 in 2008 to 623 in 2013.

There was also a reduction in arrests by Thames Valley Police with 12,288 in 2008 compared with 3,808 in 2013.