Child of 11 spends night in cells

By Rob George Friday 04 January 2013 Updated: 11/01 11:00

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AN ELEVEN and 12-year-old are among more than 250 children under the age of 16 who have been held overnight in south Worcestershire’s police cells over the past three years, according to figures obtained by The Standard.

The two youngsters were held overnight during the past year at police cells in Worcester city centre, according to statistics obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

This year was the first time in at least three years children as young as 11 have been held overnight at the cells, which serve Droitwich and the whole of south Worcestershire, as no recorded cases of 11 and 12-year-olds were found in 2010 and 2011.

But despite the detention of the 11 and 12-year-old this year, the figures show the number of 15 and 16-year-olds being held overnight have actually fallen.

The number of 15-year-olds being detained has dropped from 35 in 2010 to just 17 so far this year while 25 16-year-olds have been held this year compared to 47 in 2010.

The total number of 11 to 16-year-olds held overnight in Worcester fell from 87 in 2010 to 49 so far in 2012 while in Redditch the numbers dropped from 39 in 2010 to 28 this year.

A West Mercia Police spokesman said the fall was encouraging but added the force could not be specific about the reasons for the drop or talk about individual cases.

“All the children would have been arrested for an offence and the decision to detain them and place them into custody would have been taken in line with PACE (Police And Criminal Evidence Act),” he added.

“Juveniles who come into custody have the same rights and entitlements as anyone else but in addition there is a legal requirement for an ‘appropriate adult’ – for example a family member or guardian – to be present to represent their interests.

“Their rights and entitlement would also include having access to legal advice.”

The figures were based on the arrival and departure dates of the children being on different days, where the youngsters were detained for more than five hours and did not include any incidents which started and finished between 6am and 8pm.

The figures backed up a report by The Howard League for Penal Reform charity which revealed the number of children arrested across West Mercia had more than halved in four years.

A total of 66 arrests of youngsters aged 17 or under were made each week on average in 2011, amounting to 3,442 throughout the year, down from 7,580 detainments in 2008.

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