The findings of a recent report published by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Children is a deeply concerning one, which highlights huge variations in police competence throughout the country and a persisting feeling of fear amongst young people about how the police view, and treat them.

The Report by the APPG, “It’s all about Trust”: Building Good Relationships Between Children and the Police, focuses on strengthening trust between the police and children. The key findings include:

  • A lack of trust amongst children in relation to the police
  • A negative and often fearful perception of police by children in care, who represent a significant demographic involved with the police force, due to their previous experiences with the force
  • A failure to understand how to work with vulnerable children by the police which can lead to misunderstandings and situations made worse
  • Children involved with child trafficking and sexual offences find the police processes confusing and felt that the police treated them with a lack of respect
  • First contact with the police is a negative experience for most children 
  • Many children who found themselves being stopped and searched felt that they were stopped without sufficient reason, were treated with a lack of respect and did not have the procedure explained to them nor the reason for being stopped
  • The policy and legislative framework for the police force does not pay enough attention to the needs of children nor does it address specific considerations including:
    • The requirement to stop and search only where absolutely necessary
    • Ensuring 17 year olds have the same rights as younger children regarding police process
    • Separate custody facilities for children
    • Children who are refused bail should be found local authority accommodation, as the law requires it
    • Guidance and protocols need to be put in place to stop the criminalisation of children in care

An interesting report, well worth a read.