Children under 18 in police cells [3]

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'

What are you doing to reduce and/or eliminate the need to detain children in police custody?


Answer for Children under 18 in police cells [3]

Answer for Children under 18 in police cells [3]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

The number of juvenile detentions has been falling and the MPS is continuing to review its processes to ensure the number of arrests is kept to a minimum, while ensuring that any risks to the juveniles themselves or the wider public are effectively managed.

The MPS is working to:

       Intervene earlier, primarily through neighbourhood and schools officers, when children come to police notice and appear at risk of offending;

       Ensure powers of arrest are used only where absolutely necessary and to increase the number of juveniles interviewed under caution without arrest. Where this is appropriate juveniles will be invited to remain voluntarily to be interviewed without being detained in a cell;

       Improve opportunities for diverting those children who have had to be arrested from the criminal justice process in the future.

Some children will end up in custody when their arrest is necessary to use police powers that only apply when detained (e.g. taking forensic samples). But if a child is to be detained post-charge there is a requirement to record why no local authority accommodation could be provided and what steps were taken to source it.