Assistant Chief Constable Gareth Morgan explained the changes behind the falling numbers.

“If allegations involve a young person, a careful balance needs to be made between arriving at the right outcome for the victim whilst ensuring that the child has an opportunity to show remorse, learn from their mistakes and, with the appropriate support, move forward in a constructive way.”

Police in Warwickshire and across the UK have been increasingly using a process called ‘restorative justice’, which puts emphasis on young offenders working with their victims to find alternative solutions to the problem rather than taking them to court.

It is hoped this process does not criminalise children unnecessarily.

Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said the figures were “encouraging”.

“A sharp fall in the number of children entering the justice system is good news for everyone striving to reduce crime and saves the taxpayer untold millions,” she said.

“At a time of austerity, further reducing the number of children arrested would free up more officer time to deal with serious crimes.”

Children in England and Wales can be arrested by police from the age of 10 – the lowest age of criminal responsibility in Western Europe.

Children arrested in Warwickshire

2008 – 2,147

2009 – 1,774

2010 – 1,419

2011 – 1,050

2012 – 673

2013 – 623