The Metropolitan Police made almost 40,000 child arrests last year, new figures have revealed. Data published by the Howard League for Penal Reform shows the Met Police made 39, 901 arrests of boys and girls aged 17 and under during 2011. This is down on the previous year's figure of 46,079. The number of child arrests in the Met Police area has fallen in recent years – from 49,292 in 2008 to 46,546 in 2009. A total of 209,450 child arrests were made in England and Wales last year, the figures released by the charity reveal. This number includes 2,117 arrests of children aged 10 or 11, meaning on average six primary school children were arrested every day. Police in England and Wales arrest a child every two-and-a-half minutes, the Howard League found. Girls account for about a fifth of arrests each year - 207,808 between 2008 and 2011. However, 24,055 fewer girls were arrested in 2011 than in 2008 – a fall of 38 per cent. And in a win for the League's campaign to reduce the total number of child arrests, the figures represent a fall of a third since 2008, when 315,923 were recorded. Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: "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. "Only a handful of children are involved in more serious incidents and they usually suffer from neglect, abuse or mental health issues. A commitment to public safety means treating them as vulnerable children and making sure they get the help they need to mature into law-abiding citizens. "Under the last government, police success was measured by the number of arrests and children proved a seductive way to make up the numbers. "The fact that the number of child arrests has fallen by a third since 2008 is a testament to a change of culture, more focused on public safety than targets." Ten police services have seen the number of child arrests more than halve between 2008 and 2011 - Dorset, Humberside, Suffolk, Hertfordshire, West Mercia, West Midlands, Gloucestershire, North Wales, Lancashire and Warwickshire. Only one, North Yorkshire, recorded an increase.
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