HC Deb 20 May 1878 vol 240 cc255-6

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether it is true that eight boys, of thirteen, twelve, and ten years of age, were arrested by the Police between midnight and the morning of Wednesday last at Moulton, Mid-Cheshire, and lodged in the lock-up of Northwich on a charge of arson; whether the case was adjourned, bail refused, and these children locked up for the night; whether, on the case being heard, the Magistrates, without hearing the solicitor for the defence, discharged the boys, saying— He did not think there was any case. He did not see any evidence to bring the charge home to the boys. It was not even proved that they were in the building; if it is true that five of the boys attended the National School at Davenham, and, consequent on this arrest, were absent from the Government inspection, one of the boys having to receive a prize for good conduct; and, whether he will direct measures to be taken to prevent the Police in this district in future from taking young children from their beds during the night without sufficient evidence to warrant such action?


, in reply, said, he thought the facts were truly stated in the Question. He had no control over the county police; but the matter had already been taken in hand by the local authorities, and the police cautioned to be more careful in future. At the same time, he was bound to say that when those boys were brought before the magistrates, evidence was given that they had been seen playing about the building together with a match-box in their possession.