HL Deb 17 January 1974 vol 348 cc1179-80WA

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many children under the age of 14 were detained overnight at police stations in England and Wales in 1972 and 1973 respectively; what instructions have been given to the Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis on the notification of such cases to the relevant local authority; and what advice has been given to the chief officers of other police forces on this matter.


No central record is kept of the number of children detained overnight in police stations. My right honourable friend has not had occasion to issue guidance to the police on notification of such cases to the local authority, but I understand that it is the practice for the local authority to be notified whenever it might be practicable to transfer a child from police custody to local authority accommodation.

The Children and Young Persons Act 1969 provides safeguards against children being detained unnecessarily in police stations. Under Section 29 a child charged with an offence may be detained in a police station only if the officer in charge of the station or an officer not below the rank of inspector signs a certificate saying either that it is impracticable for him to be taken into the care of a local authority or that he is too unruly for this to be appropriate: the certificate must be produced to the court before which the child is brought. Section 28, which applies to the detention of a child in a police station as a place of safety pending care proceedings, provides that he may be so detained only in his own interests, and requires the police to inform the child's parent or guardian of his right to apply to a magistrate for his release.