Fathers at the front, children in trouble

On 15 April 1916 The Chief Constable of Berkshire delivered his annual report to the County’s Standing Joint Committee which oversaw police matters. There had been a reduction in serious crime, but an increase in minor and juvenile offences, which he ascribed to the numbers of absent fathers.

General remarks as regards crime during the year 1915

During the past year the number of Indictable and Non-Indictable Offences again shows a very satisfactory decrease compared with previous years. There is little doubt that the war largely accounts for this.

I would, however, point out the fact that there has been a very large increase in the total number of offences, both Indictable and Non-Indictable, committed by Juveniles. In 1914, the number of Juvenile offences (Indictable) was 39, whereas in 1915 it has risen to 82, and in the case on Non-Indictable Offences it has risen from 38 in 1914 to 82 in 1915.

These Juvenile Offences largely account for the increase in Stealing and Malicious Damage… and no doubt the want of control over children due to the absence of their fathers on Military Service and the consequent extra burden of work thrown upon the mothers, may be looked upon as a primary cause of this youthful indiscipline. The increase in the number of offences under the Education Act may also in a sense be attributable to the same case, owing to children being kept at home to help their mothers….

As regards Tramps, I do not think any comparison can be made between this year and other years, as the whole question of vagrancy has so altered owing to the exigencies of the war. Several Casual Wards have been closed altogether, and no doubt many of the men who would otherwise be classed as Tramps are now serving their country in some capacity or other or have found employment elsewhere.

Death of PC 144, F. B. Hewett
I regret to report the death on 30th December 1914 of PC 144, Francis B. Hewett, who lost his life when HMS Natal exploded and sank. He rejoined the Navy as a ship’s steward on 1st June, 1915, under the provisions of the Police (Emergency Provisions) Act, 1915. He was 21 years of age, was unmarried, and had served 2 years and 2 months in this force at the date of his death.

Chief Constable’s Report to the Standing Joint Committee (C/CL/C2/1/5)

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