West Yorkshire Police keep children as young as 10 in custody overnight
Since 2013, 5,684 children were kept overnight in police custody, data has revealed.
Children aged just 10 years old are the youngest to have been held in the cells overnight in West Yorkshire for offences such as theft, criminal damage and burglary.
Between 2013 and 2018 one child spent a total of 24 nights in police custody after being held on multiple occasions.
The child was aged between 13 and 17 at the time.
The force has said that there are occasions when investigations require that children be detained overnight such as for formal interviewing.
Other instances include, the child being represented by an appropriate adult during an interview, waiting if an appropriate adult is not available and The Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) states that rest period must be given if a decision cannot be made immediately.
The total number of children held overnight was 1,288 in 2013-14, 1,230 in 2014-15, 1,181 in 2015-16 and 1,029 in 2016-17. The number in 2017-18 fell to 956.
A police spokesman said: “Officers are routinely encouraged to make use of alternatives to custody such as Voluntary Attendance and Community Resolutions when dealing with child suspects, this not only minimises the number of children brought into custody but also avoids children being criminalised from an early age.
“The use of schools based officers and resolution within the school arena is also a vital tool in diverting children from custody, here the officers can not only deal with issues within the school, but can work beyond the initial contact in order to alleviate any issues within the child’s home life in conjunction with external agencies.
“There are occasions where a young detainee has been charged and is detained to appear at the next available Court.
“While secure accommodation continues to be difficult to obtain, an issue which is seen on a national scale, we have been successful in obtaining secure beds for juveniles post charge.”