THE number of youngsters under 18 arrested by police in Suffolk has fallen dramatically over the last three years – and more than halved between 2010 and 2011.

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However figures compiled by the Howard League for Penal Reform showed there were 1,684 arrests of youngsters in Suffolk in 2011.

In 2008 there were 4,840 arrests of youngsters, and in 2010 3,716 arrests.

A spokeswoman for Suffolk police said there were several factors which could be contributing to this fall in the number of youngsters arrested in Suffolk.

She said: “There have been reductions in levels of both crime and anti-social behaviour in the county as a whole, and where offences and incidents do occur they may be dealt with by means of Community Resolution where appropriate.

“This restorative justice approach would not result in a visit to custody but would see the person responsible take steps to rectify what has happened, for instance through an apology or reparation.”

She said the police had also been working with other bodies to try to provide facilities and activities for youngsters to prevent them from getting up to mischief.

Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “It is very pleasing to see that Suffolk Police is arresting fewer children than it has in the past. I hope this trend continues.

“Children who get into trouble are more often than not just being challenging teenagers and how we respond to this nuisance behaviour could make a difference for the rest of their lives. An arrest can blight a life and lead to a criminal record for just being naughty. The positive change in policing children will release resources to deal with real crimes.”

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