Police urged to stop detaining children
29 children are locked up
overnight in Merseyside Police cells each week, figures obtained by
the Howard League for Penal Reform revealed.
New research by the charity shows that there were 1,522 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 equates to an average of 112 detentions per night.
However, the true number is likely to be far higher as some of the
largest Police services in the country were unable to provide
The data shows that the number of overnight detentions is falling
nationwide; a success for the Howard League‘s campaign to reduce
the number of children getting caught up in the criminal justice
system. But now the charity is calling for the practice of
holding children overnight in Police cells to be brought to an end
The Howard League is urging Police to work more closely with parents
and children‘s services to provide safe and appropriate care for
boys and girls who come to their attention.
A briefing paper published by the charity also calls for the
presumption of bail to be strictly applied to children, as well as
pushing for all Police to be trained in safeguarding and child
Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal
Reform, said:- "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. But the number remains far too
high and it is particularly worrying to see that practice varies
widely from Police service to Police service. What boys and
girls need in most cases is simply to go home. On rare occasions,
somewhere safe, not somewhere secure, should be provided by the
local authority. Parents, not Police, should be taking
responsibility for their children. Police are to be
congratulated for the significant fall in the use of Police cells in
recent years. It is extravagantly expensive to detain children at a
time of austerity, particularly when almost all of them are
innocent, or have just been naughty and that behaviour can be dealt
with quickly and safely by parents."
In 2010, Police services across England and Wales recorded more than
45,000 overnight detentions of children aged 17 and under.
The drop in detentions has coincided with a 15% fall in the number
of child arrests. Several Police services have reviewed their arrest
policies and procedures as a result of the Howard League‘s positive
engagement with them. Over the 2 year period, there were 387
overnight detentions of children of primary school age. Girls
accounted for 15% of the total number of detentions.
The figures are to be presented to MPs at a Howard League event at
Westminster with Jacqui Cheer, the Chief Constable of Cleveland
Police and the Association of Chief Police Officers‘ lead on
children and young people.
Number of overnight detentions of children by Merseyside
Police:- in 2010 - 1,617 had been
detained and in
2011 - 1,522 had been detained.
Email us your views on this to:-
SOAP STAR JOINS
LIVERPOOL CHARITY FOR DOUBLE CELEBRATION
FORMER Eastenders star
Cheryl Fergison joined residents from a local community project in a
double celebration after securing almost £10,000 funding.
The 48 year old, who played Heather Trott in the TV soap, visited
the Tesco in Old Swan to hand over £750 worth of food and gift
vouchers, which had been donated by the store, to Healing Space
The group is also celebrating being awarded £9,140 from People‘s
Health Trust, which distributes money raised by HealthFit through
The Health Lottery.
Healing Space Liverpool will use the cash boost for their baking
bread project, which aims to bring people together through cooking,
to increase self-esteem and develop healthier lifestyles.
Fergison said:- "To see people who are usually isolated coming
together is fantastic. That‘s what is important about The Health
Lottery scheme; it helps small groups in local communities."
Maria Barrington, director of Healing Space Liverpool, said the
grant and donation will make a "massive difference" to the
group. She said:- "It means we have more resources, so
can get even more people involved in our project. We are incredibly
grateful… We will be able to help people who feel isolated and
vulnerable and bring them together."
To date, a total of £171,952 has been distributed to community
groups and not-for-profit organisations in Merseyside.
On the day, the Tesco store was presented with a plaque to celebrate
the stores fundraising efforts for good causes in Merseyside through
Health Lottery ticket sales.
Store manager, Peter Green, said it was great to receive "recognition.
We have put in a tremendous amount of effort into helping the
local community…and feel really proud to have helped Healing Space
with food and vouchers."