Northamptonshire children held in police cells 'unacceptable'

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Detaining vulnerable children in police cells is "unacceptable", a Northamptonshire councillor says.

Lib Dem Brendan Glynane said an Ofsted report revealed children had been held for up to three days because suitable accommodation was unavailable.

County assistant chief constable Paul Phillips said young people may be held to stop them absconding.

The council said it would adopt an Ofsted recommendation after it was revealed children were kept in cells.

Mr Glynane said: "I find locking up children in cells unacceptable and I am sure people across the county feel the same way."

'Fewer arrests'

Mr Phillips said police needed to investigate crime so needed to keep arrested young people in custody because of the risk to themselves or others and in case of further offending.

"We do try to get them into secure accommodation provided by the county council but there is a shortage," he said.

They were often granted bail but this was not always possible because they may abscond or commit further offences, he said.

"A police cell is not always the right place but we've arrested far fewer young people in the past 12 months - less than 800.

"We're trying to avoid criminalising them by putting them through the cell block system and I'm not aware of somebody being held for three days."

'Raise standards'

Police work with an independent agency available 24 hours a day who will try to provide secure accommodation.

"We're also putting pressure on the county council to find additional accommodation.

"Ofsted shining a light on the council has revealed this weakness and a solution may be found."

The county council said it would implement the recommendations that came out of the Ofsted report.

County council chief executive Dr Paul Blantern said: "Our immediate goal is to raise standards across the board and across the county so that by the time Ofsted next comes to inspect us, they will be able to see that significant and far-reaching improvements have taken place."

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