The number of young people arrested has decreased by a fifth across Hampshire, new figures reveal.

Data released by Hampshire Constabulary via a Freedom of Information request has shown that the number of people between the ages of 10 and 17 being arrested decreased by 20.6 per cent between 2019 and 2020.

It comes as the force says that the national coronavirus restrictions "will undoubtedly have had an impact", but added that it takes a "proactive approach to tackling young offending".

For the seven months between March and September 2019, 1,184 young people between the ages of 10 and 17 were arrested for any offence in Hampshire.

However, for the same months of 2020, that number had dropped to 940.

Andover Advertiser:

The only month last year that saw more youth arrests than the year before was September.

A spokesperson for Hampshire Constabulary told The Advertiser that the decrease "can only be seen as a positive".

"Although the national lockdown will undoubtedly have had an impact, we cannot say this is the only reason for the decline in the arrests of young people.

"Across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, we are working with local authorities and other partner agencies to help young people avoid getting involved in crime and to provide rehabilitation programmes to help those who have started on the wrong track.

"We do have a clear focus on managing the risk some young people present, and are mindful of the link between children and wider harm, abuse and exploitation but also the challenges for those children who are drawn into serious violence.

"Those children who are arrested, we do so if there is a clear risk not to and if there are concrete grounds to take them into custody.

"Irrespective of age, an officer will only arrest someone where it is necessary to do so, and the person will then only be detained in police custody where there continued detention is necessary as the investigation is carried out.

"If an investigation can be carried out without the need to arrest, then a suspect can be interviewed under caution without being detained in custody.

"When it comes to children and young people, we strive to keep arrest as a last resort and work with the young person to manage their risks and protect and safeguard them too."