Children under 18 in police cells [2]

MQT on 2016-01-20
Session date: 
January 20, 2016
Question By: 
Andrew Dismore
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Further to Question No: 2015/3509;

'Over the last 6 months, how many children under 18 have been held a) overnight and b) over a weekend in police cells?'

Your response being:

'The MPS Commissioner is committed to ensuring that all detainees, including young people are protected and treated appropriately while in police custody.  It is vital that appropriate safeguards are in place for all under-18s who come into contact with the police and that they are not held overnight in a police cell unless it is impractical to transfer them to local authority accommodation.

'Overnight' detention is defined as holding an individual within custody for four or more consecutive hours between midnight and 8:00am.  'Weekend' detention is defined as holding within custody an individual, who has been detained at some time on a Saturday or Sunday, for at least four hours before being released the following Monday.

The most recent data available (01/11/14 - 30/04/15) indicates that 3,005 and 483 under 18 detentions within custody 'overnight' and at the 'weekend' respectively.

NB - The number of detentions do not equate to the number of individuals detained.  E.g. an individual detainee may have been arrested twice within the time period stated'.

As The Police and Criminal Evidence Act of 1984 created a statutory duty that any arrested juvenile (those under the age of 18) be moved to "local authority accommodation … unless it is impractical to do so"; and as this is in conjunction with the "absolute duty to provide accommodation for children to be transferred out of custody under the Children's Act 1989 (s.21 (2) (b)", why such juveniles were not moved into local authority accommodation as required by law; and if it was impractical to do so, please explain why?


Answer for Children under 18 in police cells [2]

Answer for Children under 18 in police cells [2]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

There are a number of circumstances that might result in the overnight detention of a juvenile. A person / juvenile is considered detained overnight if they are in custody for four or more consecutive hours between 0000 and 0800hrs. They do not have to have been charged. The Local Authority housing requirement only applies once a juvenile has been charged and refused bail.

Specific data cannot currently be collated from the custody system regarding the reasons for each juvenile being detained 'overnight', but after 6 hrs in custody every detainee detention must be reviewed by an Inspector and the necessity for detention documented. 

These will include:

       Detention in order to conduct interviews, or to use police powers that only apply when the person is in detention e.g. the taking of forensic samples.

       Unavoidable detention where there is no power to bail  or transfer to Local Authority accommodation, i.e. Where court bail conditions have been breached and police are directed by the court to bring the juvenile to the next sitting of the court.

       Where a charged juvenile cannot be transferred to the Local Authority, because they state they have no accommodation available this is recorded along with the attempts made.