Black children ‘disproportionately detained in police custody overnight’

Black children are being disproportionately detained in police custody overnight, a Labour MP has said.

Jun 29, 2022
By PA Media

Marsha De Cordova urged the Government to hold a review into the policing of black children, as she argued they are being “over policed” and being treated “with less care and protection”.

The MP for Battersea made her comments during a Westminster Hall debate on the rights of children while in police custody, during which she also highlighted a case in her constituency, where a young child was detained for almost 24 hours.

She noted the child ended up not being charged, and therefore went through “that horrific experience” for nothing.

The debate was led by the Labour MP for Lewisham East, Janet Daby, who called on the minister to review the detention clock for children and commit to increasing transparency and accountability for strip search.

Home Office minister Rachel Maclean told MPs her department would publish data on strip search in custody for the first time this year, as part of a “wider custody collection, which will greatly increased transparency and accountability”.

She also pointed to the Ministry of Justice’s project with the National Police Chiefs’ Council, which will “develop scrutiny panels on the use of strip search”.

Ms De Cordova told Westminster Hall about the case in her constituency “where a young child in their school uniform was kept in police custody for just under 24 hours”.

She added: “They were not charged for anything. So, that child has gone through that horrific experience and there was no charge.”

Ms De Cordova also highlighted the report by Just For Kids Law, which through a Freedom of Information Request, found that “21,369 children were detained overnight in police custody, either pre or post-charge in 2019″.

She raised the issue of black children being “disproportionately detained in police custody overnight”, adding: “And that’s based on responses from 31 of those police forces. And as a London MP representing a London constituency, I am particularly concerned that over 44% of children detained overnight in police custody in 2019 were black children.”

Ms Cordova went on: “I believe we need to have a review into the policing of black children.

“They are being over policed, and they are being treated with less care and protection. And that perceived maturity or a term used is adultification of our by young black children is another form of racism.”

On the issue of strip searches for children, Ms Daby said: “There must be a higher reporting and monitoring of the use of strip searches in police custody.

“The current rate is woeful. Strip searches are degrading, humiliating, and as we’ve seen they completely traumatise children.”

In her concluding remarks, Ms Maclean said: “I would like to update the House that the Home Office will publish data on strip search in custody for the first time this year as part of a wider custody collection, which will greatly increase transparency and accountability.

“And we anticipate that this collection will ultimately become mandatary.”

On what the Government is doing to increase trust in the police among ethnic minorities, Ms Maclean said “we have seen major improvements in the way that the police deal with racist crimes”.

However, she added: “We still know there is much more to do, and that’s why attracting more officers from a wide range of ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds is a core ambition of our drive to recruit an extra 20,000 officers.

“And that’s been set out in the Inclusive Britain report. The Government and policing partners will create a new national framework for how the use of police powers, such as stop and search, are scrutinised at a local level.

“We will also explore sharing body worn video footage with scrutiny panels and removing unnecessary barriers to its use to increase community oversight.

“And I welcome that the Ministry of Justice are supporting a project with the National Police Chiefs’ Council to develop scrutiny panels on the use of strip search with the aim of addressing a difference in experience of ethnic minority children and adults in police custody.”

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