RED-faced police have admitted they made a mistake in compiling figures about the number of child arrests made in North Yorkshire.

The county’s police force came under fire when the Howard League for Penal Reform released statistics which appeared to show a big jump in the number of under-17s arrested across North Yorkshire.

The figures were supplied by the force in response to a Freedom of Information requested from the League and gave the impression the force was the only one in the country to have reported a rise between 2008 and 2011.

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But further analysis of the data has indicated that the force gave a figure that was significantly higher than it should have been because of a mistake made during counting by a member of staff.

And in fact the real figures showed a decline – dropping from 5,816 in 2008 to 2,953 in 2011. The correct figures are considerably less than the originals supplied by the force – 6,240 in 208 and 6,452 in 2011.

Temporary Chief Constable Tim Madgwick said the mistake had been “ very disappointing and regrettable.”

He added: “On behalf of North Yorkshire Police, I sincerely apologise to the Howard League and other parties that have been inconvenienced by this error. I will send a letter of apology to the Howard League as a matter of priority.”