Fall in young detainees earns praise
4:44pm Monday 14th October 2013 in Pontypool news
GWENT Police have been praised for their low rate of overnight detention of children compared to other police services in England and Wales.
New research by the Howard League for Penal Reform shows that there were 92 overnight detentions of children aged 17 and under in police stations across Gwent during 2011.
A total of 87 of the children were boys and five were girls.
This is compared to 108 overnight detentions of children in 2010 in Gwent – 96 boys and 12 girls.
The total across England and Wales in 2011 was 40,716 – which equates to an average of 112 detentions per night.
However, some of the largest police services in the country were unable to provide figures.
In 2010, police services across England and Wales recorded more than 45,000 overnight detentions of children aged 17 and under.
The data shows that the number of overnight detentions of youths 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 national charity, which works for less crime, safer communities and fewer people in prison, is calling for the practice of holding children overnight in police cells to be brought to an end altogether.
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 protection.
Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “Gwent Police deserves credit for its low rate of detentions because 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.”
Figures are to be presented to MPs tomorrow. (tues) at a Howard League event at Westminster.
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