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Howard League blog · 13 Mar 2017

Concordat on children in custody

A year ago, the Home Office and the Department of Education produced a draft concordat to prevent the detention of children in police stations following charge. It was never published, but it has been implemented. I thought it should be published and we are putting it on our website to make it available to everyone working with children who are in conflict with the law.

The concordat was signed off by Theresa May and Nicky Morgan, respectively the Home Secretary and Secretary of State for Education in April last year. It was sent to all police chiefs, directors of children’s services, police and crime commissioners and elected leaders of children’s services. Although it was never formally published, it has influenced and guided practice ever since.

The concordat built on work initiated in 2011 by the Howard League when we published a review of the overnight of detention of children in police cells. Since then we have worked with police forces to reduce overnight detentions and to find suitable ways of housing the very few children who do need somewhere safe to sleep for the night once they have been charged.

I have visited several police forces recently to talk about their changing work with children. Most forces do not detain children in cells but will ask them to attend the station as required. In Lancashire I was told about some excellent work with a local charity that places the few children who need somewhere to sleep in foster care for the night, funded by the local authority.

I don’t know why the concordat has never been published. Nevertheless, it has been influential and the number of children detained in police cells overnight has reduced significantly. There is more work to do, and the Howard League will be leading it.


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