Child arrest rates drop by half on the Island

A Freedom of Information request has revealed child arrest rates on the Island have dropped by half since 2014.

The number of arrests involving children aged 17 and under was 153 last year, compared to 306 in 2014.

Police say it follows efforts to use alternative options to arrest, including community resolutions, which officers can use for less serious crimes.

Council leader Councillor Dave Stewart, a former police detective, said: “Police don’t want to be arresting children, so it’s good the numbers have really come down.

“Upholding the law is essential but through the work we’ve done together, we know fewer children in custody is right in many cases.”

The drop in child arrests has been consistent over the last four years, with 215 in 2015 and 161 in 2016.

Isle of Wight District Commander, Superintendent Sarah Jackson said: “Hampshire Constabulary is committed to finding the most suitable outcome for children and young people who come into contact with police.

“We welcome the reduction in child arrests on the Isle of Wight as we know the importance of not treating children as criminals unnecessarily.

“We encourage our officers and staff to consider the widest range of options and only to use arrest and custody as a last resort.

“We know custody can be an intimidating and frightening place and seek to use a range of out of court and out of custody methods to tackle offending and ensure our communities are kept safer.”

In contrast, Hampshire’s child arrest rate has risen since 2014 when 3192 children were arrested. In 2018, the rate had increased to 3960, according to figures obtained by the Howard League for Penal Reform.