Thames Valley: Children Kept In Custody

New figures show, 38 children are locked up overnight in Thames Valley cells every week.

The Howard League for Penal Reform tell us there were 1,976 overnight detentions of children aged 17 and under in police stations across the region during 2011.

The total across England and Wales was 40,716 – which is an average of about 112 detentions per night.

But, the Howard League say the true number is likely to be far higher as some of the largest police services in the country were unable to provide figures.

Chief Executive, Frances Crook says, “Holding children as young as ten in police cells overnight is unjustifiable. The vast majority of children who are locked up are innocent of any crime, and it is a frightening and intimidating experience which does more harm than good.
“It is encouraging to see that the number of detentions is falling nationwide, thanks in part to our successful campaigning. This is a victory for common sense, prudent use of police resources and improved community relations.
“Parents, not police, should be taking responsibility for their children."

Thames Valley Police are telling us, "As with adults, detention of children in custody is authorised for a number of reasons, including to further a criminal investigation, to uncover the identity of any suspects or because the disappearance of that person would hinder any prosecution. The rules for the detention of suspects are set down in law and on every occasion must be authorised by a custody officer.

"Detentions of both children and adults in police custody are reviewed regularly to ensure that they are being held in accordance with the law and not for any longer than required for police investigations."

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