March 16 2014 Latest news:
Lizzie Dearden, Senior reporter
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
A bishop has called the treatment of an 11-year-old boy held in custody at Bexleyheath Police Station “inhumane”.
Bishop Jonathan Blake, who volunteers as an independent custody visitor, came across the boy and his 14-year-old brother on Thursday.
A police spokesman said they had both been arrested on suspicion of robbery.
Bishop Blake, of Welling, said the 11-year-old “looked pitiful”.
He added: “He was a pint-sized 11-year-old, a tiny, thin waif of a kid. He was just wearing a t-shirt in a cold cell.
“To put a child of 11 into a shocking environment is to me abusive.”
The bishop believed police had broken government guidelines by keeping the juveniles in police cells.
But a spokesman for Bexley Police said they were in detention rooms specially designated for young people or vulnerable adults.
The two boys are believed to be in care.
Bishop Blake argued that harsh treatment will stop them being successfully rehabilitated.
He said: “When I asked the 11-year-old if he was alright, he looked up with hollow eyes and said: ‘I’m used to this, I’ve been here before.’
“It’s not the way we should be treating an 11-year-old boy.”
The age of criminal responsibility in the UK is 10.
A spokesman for Bexley Police said the boys were arrested in relation to a robbery in Albion Road, Bexleyheath, on December 22.
She added: “Both suspects were interviewed by detectives and held in custody until they were released for bail at approximately 7pm.
“Both juveniles have been bailed pending further enquiries and will return to a south-east London police station in February.”