Police Flouted Child Custody Law

Strathclyde Police has been ordered to apologise to the mother of a 14-year-old boy who was held in custody for more than two days.

A report by Scotland’s Police Complaints Commissioner said the force had committed a “systemic failure” in relation to child detention rules.

Officers were also criticised for failing to contact the boy’s parents quickly enough.

His mother raised 16 complaints about the case, two of which were upheld.

The report by commissioner Jim Martin said he was held for 59 hours from Saturday, 2 September to Monday, 4 September last year.

Mr Martin said: “It is of significant concern that in considering the overall complaint Strathclyde Police failed to identify and take steps to correct what appears to be a systemic failure in relation to the detention in custody of children.

“It is clear to me that various Strathclyde Police officers, of various levels of seniority, were operating with an incorrect understanding of the force’s standard operating procedure relating to the detention in custody of children.

“The issues arising from this complaint provide a broader learning opportunity which Strathclyde Police should embrace.”

The commissioner said his findings would be referred to Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary who is conducting a review of the detention of children in custody.

Two of the mother’s complaints were upheld and Strathclyde Police has been asked to provide written responses to five others, including a claim involving the removal of the child’s trousers.

The Commissioner ruled that the child should not have been held for so long as he did not fit the detention criteria under the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 or Strathclyde Police’s standard operating procedure.

The commissioner also upheld the complaint that police failed to contact the boy’s parents “within a reasonable time period”.

Two complaints involved allegations of criminal offences that have been considered by the local procurator fiscal, he added.

The commissioner concluded: “I believe it is appropriate that Strathclyde Police apologise to the complainer for failing to register and investigate all her complaints.”

The Police Complaints Commissioner for Scotland was established in 2006 in order to review the way police handle complaints from the public.

Mr Martin became the first person to take up the role in April and has received more than 130 enquiries and complaints about police forces, authorities and related agencies.

A spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (ACPOS) said: “The comments made in each of the cases reviewed by the PCCS will be reviewed by the forces concerned and responded to in due course.”