Fewer children locked up in police cells overnight
Five children are locked up overnight in Devon and Cornwall Police cells each week, new figures have revealed.
The research by the Howard League for Penal Reform published today, shows there were 285 overnight detentions of children aged 17 and under in police stations across the region during 2011.
The charity welcomed the reduction from 393 in 2010 to 285 last year, but said the practice of locking children up should be abandoned altogether.
Supt Toby Davies, head of criminal justice at Devon and Cornwall Police, said there had been a substantial reduction in the numbers from the previous year. He said keeping children in custody was a last resort.
Job Vacancy: Plumbing & Heating Engineer RequiredView details
Trident Plumbing and Heating Services Ltd have a vacancy for a full time Plumbing and Heating Engineer.
Terms: Ring 01326 218934, email CV to email@example.com, or post CV to Unit 1, Ponsharden Ind Est, Falmouth, Cornwall, TR11 2SG
Contact: 01326 330626
Valid until: Friday, December 20 2013
"Spending the night in a police cell can be a very intimidating and daunting experience for a child and we try and avoid this happening where possible," he said.
"There are times when it is the only option, for example to prevent crime, to stop an individual harming themselves or others and if we can't locate a young person's parent or appropriate carer.
"Once they have been dealt with we do everything possible to ensure they do not remain with us overnight unless absolutely necessary.
"We are also working closely with partners to reduce the number of young people who enter the criminal justice system."
Supt Davies said the number of children in custody had reduced for a variety of reasons, including the fact that more were being dealt with by restorative justice methods aimed at dealing with offending behaviour but without criminalising the child.