The number of children arrested in Sussex has fallen in the last five years.

According to figures obtained by the Howard League for Penal Reform, arrests of children by Sussex Police have fallen by 43 per cent within that time period.

The research shows the number of arrests in Sussex have dropped from 7,081 in 2008 to 4,018 in 2013.

It also shows that arrests of children in the county have declined every year for the last five years.

Olivia Pinkney, Deputy Chief Constable of Sussex Police and the National Policing Lead for Children and Young People, said: “Sussex Police has been working hard over a number of years to reduce the number of young people brought into custody suites throughout the country.

“We cannot be complacent and there is still work to be done to reduce these numbers.”

DCC Pinkney attributed the drop in child arrests to alternative methods used by Sussex Police, including community resolutions where alleged offenders can be dealt with appropriately using reparative and rehabilitative work in consultation with the victim.

She added: “Sussex Police believes the safeguarding of young people is a very serious matter and that the circumstances surrounding the alleged offence and victim’s wishes are taken into consideration before any arrest is deemed to be appropriate or proportionate in every case.

“We are glad of the support of the Howard League for Penal Reform in this work and will continue to work with them and share good practice from around the country.”

The Howard League for Penal Reform is a national charity working for less crime, safer communities and fewer people in prison.

Frances Cook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “It is encouraging to see that Sussex Police are making significantly fewer arrests of children than they were in 2008.

“The challenge for police now is to maintain this trend. At a time of austerity, further reducing the number of children arrested would free up officer time to deal with more serious crimes.”