Metropolitan police figures released to Labour London Assembly Member Andrew Dismore AM have revealed that over under-18s were held overnight in police cells over 3,000 times in the six months between November 2014 and May 2015 despite the law saying children should be transferred to local authority accommodation and not be kept overnight in cells.
By law the police cannot release an under-18 from custody without an appropriate adult being present. If nobody is able to collect them, councils have a duty to provide temporary accommodation to avoid the child being left in a cell overnight.
However, data released by the Mayor of London has revealed that in the six months between November 2014 and May 2015 there were 3,005 instances where children were kept overnight in police custody for more than four hours with 483 occurring at the weekend.
The police are reliant on local authorities to provide suitable accommodation to avoid children experiencing an overnight stay in custody, but with burgeoning Government cuts to council budgets and a growing housing crisis, Mr Dismore warned the Government is making it harder and harder for local authorities to find appropriate placements for children in custody.
Labour London Assembly Member Andrew Dismore AM, said:
“The law is very clear that nobody under-18 should be left in cells overnight. The fact that vulnerable under-18s were held overnight in London cells over 3,000 times in six months alone shows there is a serious problem.
“The police tell me that a combination of budget cuts and housing shortages are having a devastating impact on councils’ ability to place young people and prevent them spending the night in a police cell.
“It cannot be right that young people, many arrested on relatively minor offences, end up forced to spend the night in a cell just because the Government won’t give councils the resources they need to provide safe alternative accommodation.”