Cumbria Police is using a rising number of force tactics – including police dogs – on children, figures reveal.

Home Office statistics show Cumbria Police used force tactics on under-18s on 678 occasions in 2020-21 – with seven involving children under 11.

This was up from 563 the year before, and 550 in 2018-19 – the first year such figures were recorded at police force level.

Last year, Cumbria officers handcuffed children 289 times, physically restrained them on the ground on 68 occasions and used five limb or body restraints.

Officers also recorded one instance of a baton being used, two time when batons were drawn and one occasion when a dog was used.

Across England and Wales, 77,000 use of force tactics on children were recorded in 2020-21 – including 551 on under-11s.

The number of tactics used on under-18s was up eight per cent from 72,000 a year before, and the most since national comparable records began in 2017-18.

Andrew Neilson, director of campaigns at the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “A steep rise in the police use of force against children is a worrying trend, particularly when the levels of children arrested remain thankfully low.

“Police forces across England and Wales should review what might be behind this rise and work to reduce the number of incidents involving children."

Officers across the two nations drew or fired TASER devices 2,600 times on children in 2020-21 – with 14 uses logged by Cumbria Police.

However, none of these saw the device discharged.

TASER weapons are designed to temporarily incapacitate someone with an electric shock – either fired at someone from a distance or held against their body to stun them.

The Children’s Rights Alliance for England wants their use on children banned or permitted in only the rarest situations.

The National Police Chiefs' Council said a TASER weapon is only discharged in 10 per cent of uses, and each one must be fully recorded, proportionate and justified.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist, NPCC lead for self-defence and restraint, said officers must protect people of all ages from harming themselves or others, often in fast-moving violent scenarios.

He added: “Officers have thousands of interactions with the public every day and force is not used in the vast majority of those.

"Officers receive guidance and training with the starting point being that they should attempt to resolve confrontations with the public without the need to use force."

A Home Office spokeswoman said a change in the number of incidents is likely a consequence of improved recording methods and should not be seen as a worrying increase in the use of force.