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Concern over kids detained by Cumbria and Lancashire Police
12:02pm Monday 14th October 2013 in News
NEW figures show that police forces in Cumbria and Lancashire are detaining hundreds of children in cells every year.
Lancashire Police detained 2,314 children overnight in a year — the third highest number out of all police forces in the country.
Cumbria Police locked up eight children aged between 10 and 17 - every week or the equivalent of 443 in 2011.
The Lancashire figures were slightly down on the 2,696 seen in 2010, but were among the highest in the country.
The statistics were obtained by the Howard League for Penal Reform, a charity.
Nationally there were more than 40,000 overnight detentions of children in police stations across England and Wales during 2011, although several large police forces failed to supply data, so the number is likely to be even higher.
Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “Holding children as young as 10 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, thanks in part to our successful campaigning. This is a victory for common sense, prudent use of police resources and improved community relations.”
Tim Ewen of Lancashire Police said: “Taking someone into custody is a decision which is made by police officers on an individual basis for a variety of reasons, in accordance with the law.
“It is not a decision which is taken lightly — particularly when officers are dealing with young people. Lancashire Constabulary always aims to deal with anyone who is detained in our cells as quickly and efficiently as possible regardless of age and in fact the number of youths arrested in Lancashire is down by over 23 per cent over the past 12 months.
“There are many aspects to the issues of youths who commit crime and all are subject to an array of different disposals; in many instances police custody is avoided completely.”
Chief Inspector Terry Bathgate, of Cumbria Police, said: “We are pleased to see that there was a fall in overnight detentions of children. We recognise that there is still more to be done to bring this figure down even further. We are working closely with our partners in Children’s Services to enable us to achieve the best outcome for the child and for the communities that we serve.”
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