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Children in Custody

Volume 737: debated on Monday 18 September 2023

9. What recent guidance her Department has issued to the police on upholding the rights of children in custody. (906422)

Children should be detained only when necessary, and must be provided with an appropriate adult. The College of Policing provides operational guidance for police, and the concordat on children in custody supports police and local authorities to meet their statutory responsibilities. HM inspectorate of constabulary and fire and rescue services also sets expectations for the treatment of children in custody.

When a child is arrested, they must choose if they wish receive legal advice, just like an adult. But children are not adults, and no one should expect a child aged 10 or above to decide whether to exercise their right to a solicitor. Will the Minister explain why the Government believe that children should be forced to make such a decision?

I remind the hon. Lady that children are involved in crime. Children detained in police custody must have an appropriate adult—statistics shows that that happens in 99% of cases—who can be of assistance. I want that to be 100%. Police custody remains a core part of the criminal justice system. It is critical for maintaining police confidence, bringing offenders to justice and keeping the public safe. We must ensure that adults do not abuse children and are not attracted to making children get involved in criminal activity because the police are too scared to put them into custody if necessary.