HAMPSHIRE police officers arrested nearly 200 children a week over a single year, a charity has claimed.

New figures show Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary made 10,020 arrests of boys and girls aged 17 and under during 2011. That number represents a fall of five per cent since 2008 – but it is up on 2010’s total of 8,267.

However, Hampshire Police say they arrested fewer than 9,000 young people over the last year – and the majority were aged 16 and 17.

The statistics were compiled by the Howard League for Penal Reform and show 192 children were being arrested every seven days on average in 2011.

Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League, said: “It is very pleasing to see that Hampshire Police is arresting fewer children than it has in the past. I hope this trend continues.

“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.”

Across England and Wales, the police made more than 209,000 arrests of boys and girls aged 17 and under last year.

This number, the charity claims, includes 2,117 arrests of children who were aged 10 or 11, meaning that on average six primary schoolchildren were arrested every day. More than one million child arrests have been made in England and Wales since 2008, but the figures show a downward trend, according to the charity. The number of arrests nationwide fell by a third between 2008 and 2011.

Jo Rowland, head of custody and criminal justice at Hampshire Constabulary, said: “Hampshire officers always consider whether arrest is necessary before detaining any individual, especially young people. “We keep in mind that certain circumstances allow us to progress investigations without making an arrest.”