Arrests of children in Surrey have fallen by more than half in the last six years, new figures show.

Surrey Police made 889 arrests in 2016, according to data obtained by the Howard League for Penal Reform under Freedom of Information Act – down from 1,955 in 2010.

The force cites a mantra of ‘child first, offence second’, and collaborative work with Surrey County Council’s Youth Support Service, as reasons behind the declining child arrest figures.

Custody and response officers have been trained in how to intervene effectively and consider alternative options for a juvenile who has committed a crime, a Surrey Police spokesperson stated.

External evaluations have shown that this approach improves the experience for victims of crime, reduces re-offending, and is more cost effective than traditional approaches.

Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “Surrey Police should be applauded for their positive approach, and the Howard League is proud to have played its part in a transformation that will make our communities safer.

“By working together, we are ensuring that tens of thousands of children will have a brighter future and not be dragged into a downward spiral of crime and custody.”

Police forces nationwide have recorded a similar drop-off in child arrest numbers, with every force recording fewer child arrests last year than in 2010, the figures obtained by the Howard League show.

There were 87,525 child arrests in England and Wales last year, down from 245,763 in 2010 – a reduction of 64 per cent between 2010 and 2016.

Frances Cook added: “For the sixth year running, we have seen a significant reduction in child arrests across the country.

“This is a tremendous achievement, and we will continue to support police forces to develop their good practice and reduce the number to an absolute minimum.”