Arrests of children by South Yorkshire Police have fallen by 78 per cent in the last six years, new figures reveal.
Research by the Howard League for Penal Reform has found that the force made 1,396 arrests of children aged 17 and under last year, which is down from 6,235 in 2010.
Across England and Wales, the total number of arrests has fallen by 64 per cent in six years - from almost 250,000 in 2010 to 87,525 in 2016.
The Howard League for Penal Reform said the statistics underline the success of its programme, which involves working with police forces to keep as many boys and girls as possible out of the criminal justice system.
The number of arrests has fallen every year since the programme began in 2010.
The charity claims that keeping children out of the criminal justice system helps prevent crime.
It claims that academic research has shown that the more contact a child has with the system, the more entrenched in it they are likely to become.
Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “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.
“South Yorkshire 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.”
Every police force in England and Wales made fewer child arrests in 2016 than in 2010.
Nationwide, there were 703 arrests of primary school-age children - 10 and 11-year-olds- in 2016, which was an 18 per cent reduction from the previous year.
Between 2010 and 2016, the number of children in prison in England and Wales fell by 58 per cent.