CAMPAIGNERS have welcomed new figures which reveal that police in Dorset are arresting fewer children compared to five years ago.

The arrest rate now is one of the lowest in the country, only behind the Warwickshire force and City of London. Figures obtained by the Howard League for Penal Reform through a Freedom of Information request reveal that arrests of minors in Dorset have dropped by 74 per cent since 2008.

The force says it has made ‘huge strides’ in tackling the youth arrest rate which it puts down to the successful Restorative Justice Scheme where offenders meet their victims.

The number of arrests in Dorset dropped from 3,173 in 2008 to 815 in 2013, says the Howard League, which has been campaigning to keep as many children as possible out of the criminal justice system. It says forces have reviewed arrest procedures through its involvement.

Despite the positive trend, child arrests remain “all too common nationwide,” the group says.