The number of children arrested by West Mercia Police since 2010 has reduced by 88 per cent, giving them the highest percentage reduction for a single force across England and Wales.

The figures, released on Monday as part of a report by The Howard League for Penal Reform, show 655 child arrests were made in the communities served by West Mercia in 2018 compared with 5,491 in 2010.

Since 2010, West Mercia Police has changed the way it responds to incidents involving children, by ensuring a proportionate response to allegations.

There is also an understanding that the police should not seek to criminalise young people unnecessarily this has seen a significant reduction in arrests over the recent years.

The continued effective use of Restorative Justice has placed an emphasis on working with both victims and offenders to find alternative solutions.

Assistant Chief Constable Martin Evans said: “It is encouraging to see the positive work of our force, which aims to provide the best outcomes for the young people in the community who come to the attention of the police, being reflected within these figures

“It is always imperative to create the perfect balance of the right outcome for the victim and ensuring that the young person has an opportunity to learn from their mistakes, have an opportunity to show remorse and with support, be able to move forward in a constructive way.

“Although the number of arrests of young people in West Mercia Police has halved since 2016, decisions are still made on a case by case basis, therefore there will still be occasions when it is absolutely necessary and appropriate to make arrests.

“However, within West Mercia Police we continue to encourage our officers to use their professional judgement and to see past the obvious when responding to an incident or crime involving a child or young person, ensuring the action taken [is] appropriate.”