Here's how many child arrests were made by police in Yorkshire and the Humber last year

Arrests of children in England and Wales have fallen by more than two-thirds since the start of the decade, new figures show.

The number fell from nearly a quarter of a million in 2010 to just under 80,000 last year, research by the Howard League for Penal Reform found.

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Each of the four police forces in Yorkshire and the Humber followed the national trend by reducing their child arrest numbers, with North Yorkshire Police recording the lowest total number.

The charity welcomed the decreases, saying that keeping children out of the criminal justice system helps prevent crime.

Frances Crook, the chief executive of the Howard League, said: “This is the seventh year in a row that we have seen a significant reduction. It is a phenomenal achievement by the police and the Howard League, and it means that tens of thousands of children will have a brighter future without their life chances being blighted by unnecessary police contact and criminal records.”

Statistics compiled from police data show there were 79,012 child arrests in 2017 – equivalent to one every seven minutes.

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The number was down by 68 per cent compared with 2010, when there were 245,763.

It found recorded arrests of girls – of which there were 12,495 last year – have fallen at a faster rate than for boys since 2010.

The paper said there were 616 arrests of primary school-age children in 2017, a reduction of 12 per cent from the previous year.

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In West Yorkshire there were 3,953 arrests in 2017 compared to 12,947 in 2010, and the number in Humberside fell from 5,751 to 1,385.

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The number of child arrests recorded in North Yorkshire last year stood at 1,034 last year, down from 4,525 in 2010.

A North Yorkshire Police spokesman said: “These figures are excellent news for the force, and are testament to our efforts to keep the number of child arrests to a minimum.

"Our positive approach, highlighted by the Howard League, includes the restorative justice opportunities available to victims of youth crime, and our work with partners to divert young people away from a life of crime to become responsible members of society.”

There had been 1,302 child arrests in the year up to that point, compared to 6,235 in 2010.

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While welcoming the decrease, the Howard League flagged up areas where further progress could be achieved.

The report said: “In particular, the criminalisation of children in residential care, the criminalisation of children who are being exploited by county lines gangs and the disproportionate levels of criminalisation of children from black and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds are key areas that all forces should be aware of and be actively seeking to address in order to further reduce the numbers of child arrests and the unnecessary criminalisation of children.”

County lines refers to a drug distribution model which typically involves city gangs branching out into county or coastal towns to sell heroin and crack cocaine.