From school room to police cell for 177 city children

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Six children aged just 12 spent a night in a city police cell between 2012 and 2013 for a range of offences – including assault, attempted theft of a motor vehicle and arson.

The Citizen has obtained figures from Thames Valley Police via a Freedom of Information request, which reveal that between May 2012 and June 2013, 177 children aged 16 and under were detained in custody overnight in Milton Keynes.

The youngest of them were aged just 12 at the time of their arrest.

Andrew Dransfield, the Milton Keynes Council cabinet member for children and young people, believes the city does not have a high proportion of what he describes as “troubled families”, but the city does have a problem with some unruly children.

“No society is perfect,” he said. “And of course Milton Keynes has a high proportion of young people. There are probably 100,000 people in that age group.

“Depending on the severity of what they do, custody might be necessary. It could be drugs or alcohol related and it could be to protect them as well.

“Of course the parents have a responsibility. Some will be single parents and might also have issues with alcohol or drugs.”

During the 12 month period in question, one child was arrested for arson with intent, while another was locked up for the attempted theft of a motor vehicle and another for common assault.

A fourth 12-year-old was held for theft from a person and for handling stolen goods, another for the attempted theft of a pedal cycle, and the sixth for using threatening words and behaviour to cause alarm or distress.

A spokesman for Thames Valley Police said: “As with adults, detention of children in custody is authorised for a number of reasons, including to further a criminal investigation, to uncover the identity of any suspects or because the disappearance of that person would hinder any prosecution.

“The rules for the detention of suspects are set down in law and on every occasion must be authorised by a custody officer.

“Detentions of both children and adults in police custody are reviewed regularly to ensure that they are being held in accordance with the law and not for any longer than required.”