Chief Superintendent Elaine Van-Orden, from Met Detention, responds to the Evening Standard article, ' Ten-year-old held in cell overnight as 'inhuman' child detentions rise' published 17 March.
Ch. Supt. Van-Orden said:
“The Metropolitan Police Service takes its duty of care towards children and vulnerable adults seriously. The Evening Standard article implied police custody is intended to be an unpleasant experience. Whilst we recognise police custody can be a daunting and intimidating experience for children, custody suites are designed to provide a safe and secure environment for detainees and our suites are regularly inspected by Her Majesty’s Inspectorates of Constabularies and Prisons.
“Additional safeguards for children in custody include notifying their parent/guardian, providing appropriate adults to give extra support and more frequent welfare checks. Custody staff have received training in identifying and acting on vulnerabilities.
“It is not unlawful to detain a child overnight. It may be necessary to detain a child if there is an ongoing investigation that necessitates their detention, for example to take forensic samples, or to prevent evidence being lost or destroyed.
“We recognise children do get detained overnight after being charged with an offence when they should be transferred to local authority accommodation. This transfer may not happen for one of a number of reasons, which includes no available accommodation. We are working with others to reduce the number of children detained in police custody overnight.”