Gloucestershire Police praised for low children detention rate
8:01am Wednesday 16th October 2013 in News
PRAISE has gone out to Gloucestershire Police after the service was noted for holding fewer children in cells overnight than most other police forces in the country.
New research by the Howard League for Penal Reform shows that there were 62 overnight detentions of children aged 17 and under in police stations across the county during 2011.
Out of those detained, 46 were boys and 16 were girls.
Gloucestershire Police holds a good record, as the total number of detentions in 2010 was 66.
In 2012, the total number of detentions of under 17s overnight across England and Wales was 40,716 – which equates to an average of 112 detentions per night.
However, the true number is likely to be far higher as some of the largest police services in the country were unable to provide figures.
Gloucestershire Police spokeswoman Alexa Collicott said the reduction was partly due to a general decrease in crime over the past few years as well as the introduction of alternative action such as community resolutions.
"Resolutions are found, when appropriate, for crimes like shoplifting and other theft offences - the type of crimes youngsters are more likely to be involved in,” she said.
"Community resolutions have proven to be a more effective punishment than the criminalisation of offenders, particularly youngsters, and is more popular with victims, who often feel that the offenders are learning a lesson at the same time.”
A community resolution could involve someone who commits vandalism helping carry out repairs, writing a letter of apology to the owners and paying for the damage caused.
Chief executive of the Howard League of Penal Reform, Frances Crook, said: “Gloucestershire 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.
“It is encouraging to see that the number of detentions is falling nationwide, thanks in part to our successful campaigning. This is a victory for common sense, prudent use of police resources and improved community relations.
“What boys and girls need in most cases is simply to go home. On rare occasions, somewhere safe – not somewhere secure – should be provided by the local authority. Parents, not police, should be taking responsibility for their children.”
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