Detention of juveniles in police cells (FOI)
Detention of juveniles in police cells (FOI)Produced by the Freedom of Information office
Authored by Government of Jersey and published on 28 January 2020.
Prepared internally, no external costs.
My questions relate to the detention of young people in police cells in Jersey.
How many people below the age of 18 have been held in a Jersey police cell, for any length of time, over the last five years (2015 to 2019)?
Please provide the breakdown per year and by gender.
How many of these were held for more than 12 hours?
How many were held for more than 24 hours?
What is the youngest age of a person held in a Jersey police cell for any length of time?
What is the longest an under 18 has been held in a cell over the last five years and when was this?
What are the top five most common reasons / crimes for people under 18s being detained in police cells?
What kind of process, support or system is put in place for under 18s who have been held in cells for after they've been released?
All persons arrested and taken into police custody are protected by the rights given by the Police Procedures and Criminal Evidence (Jersey) Law 2003.
This is further governed by the Police Procedures and Criminal Evidence (Codes of Practice) (Jersey) Order 2004. Article 8.8 of code C of this order states:
A CODE OF PRACTICE FOR THE DETENTION, TREATMENT AND QUESTIONING OF PERSONS BY POLICE OFFICERS
8.8 A juvenile shall not be placed in a police cell unless no other secure accommodation is available and the custody officer considers that it is not practicable to supervise the juvenile if he or she is not placed in a cell or the custody officer considers that a cell provides more comfortable accommodation than other secure accommodation in the police station. A juvenile may not be placed in a cell with a detained adult.
A to C
Juvenile detainees are not, routinely, placed in a cell. They will usually be taken to an interview room and remain in the presence of a police officer until the arrival of a parent, guardian or other appropriate adult. This adult will remain with the juvenile throughout their detention but may leave whilst they are asleep. During these periods, the juvenile will be supervised by a police officer.
The below table shows the number of juvenile detainees (Persons under 18 arrested and brought to the police station) for each year 2015 to 2019
PACE detentions (under 18 yrs.)
Under 12 hours
Longer than 12 hours
Longer than 24 hours
Whilst some of the above may have been placed into a cell due to the lack of secure accommodation or for their comfort (usually after charge to allow sleep) or their behaviour was such that for their own safety, a cell was deemed more suitable, the exact numbers are not readily available without reading each and every custody record. It could take five minutes to recover and examine each individual record. This would allow for 150 of the 693 records to be reviewed in the 12.5 hours permitted to complete a full Freedom of information request. Therefore this part of the request is refused.
A limited review of years 2015 and 2018 has been made to ascertain the reasons behind the lengthy detentions of juveniles (Over 12 hours) and if they were held in cells at any time.
This limited review shows that all juveniles, who were held overnight, were detained in a cell to allow an unbroken rest period of at least eight hours before interview. The duty children’s officer from the Children’s service is contacted in each case to ascertain if suitable ‘Foster care’ is available for the night. This however, is often not suitable as the detainee has already been removed from their home for violent or uncontrollable behaviour. They will be assessed for vulnerability and either supervised at all times (by a police officer sat outside the cell) or checked at regular intervals, usually half hourly or hourly.
The youngest person arrested and detained was nine years old however they were not placed in a cell. For the reasons explained above, it is not possible within the time limits to check every custody record to see if a juvenile was placed in a cell. Whilst completing the limited search, the youngest person found to be placed in a cell was a 14-year-old. This was to allow sleep overnight before interview. The offence was Arson.
In 2015, a 15-year-old was detained for a total of 31 hours. Having been arrested in the early hours for a Grave and Criminal Assault, he was allowed to sleep in a cell until morning. He spent the day being interviewed and in a room with a parent. He was charged at 8pm but denied bail by the Centenier. Greenfields were unable to accommodate so he spent a further night sleeping, supervised by a police officer, in a cell before court in the morning.
Top five offences with juvenile offenders:
Drugs (possession of controlled substance)
Disorder / anti-social behaviour
Grave and criminal assault.
All juveniles who come into police detention are referred via the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) to the Children’s Service and onward to any other agency deemed appropriate. Those who are already in the system will also be seen by their social worker to assess any further needs.
Article 16 A scheduled public authority may refuse to supply information if cost excessive
(1) A scheduled public authority that has been requested to supply information may refuse to supply the information if it estimates that the cost of doing so would exceed an amount determined in the manner prescribed by Regulations.
Regulation 2 (1) of the Freedom of Information (Costs) (Jersey) Regulations 2014 allows an authority to refuse a request for information where the estimated cost of dealing with the request would exceed the specified amount of the cost limit of £500. This is the estimated cost of one person spending 12.5 working hours in determining whether the department holds the information, locating, retrieving and extracting the information.