Meagan Freeman | 24.02.2009 01:22 | Repression
Sky News reports that in a two night pilot run of the project, 1,200 children were stopped by officers in the street. In the space of four hours, they'd picked up 12 children, and taken them to a local community centre, had some interviewed by Children's Services, before calling their parents to come and take them home.
According to the Sky News article, the 'rounded up' children were either 'drinking or causing low level trouble'.
Although 103 referrals were made to alcohol, and 'parenting' programs, surely there must be ways of preventing the early onset of alcoholism that don't involve the police? Have the government finally so explicitly bypassed the fact that there are so few social, creative, and otherwise recreational, facilities for young people that they're now drafting in the cops to make the problems this state of affairs causes for them go away?
It seems almost an attack on freedom of assembly, as kids usually go out in the evening to be able to meet and socialise, instead of sitting zonked out in front of TVs and video games, becoming increasingly isolated and rotting their minds.
It also seems very disturbing for police to take such young people into some sort of quasi custody, and using this as an opportunity to question them. The very young who have been having a few drinks must surely be some of the most vulnerable. If the police are wantonly rounding up children and holding them, effectively, on premises like 'community centres', where they cannot have anywhere close to the official mandate they have in custody centres, then... what next? What the legal status of this sort of behaviour is... who knows?
Children do not often understand about warrants and rights and police codes of conduct and when they can and cannot stop you etc. How deeply irresponsible to be preying on them. The police cause enough trauma to arrested adults, let alone the harm this 'taking into protection' might do to children, even if they're not locking them up into solitary and taking their DNA.
Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police, Meredydd Hughes, told Sky News: "If they stay out of trouble in the future, actually that means that people like me and my colleagues can go and concentrate on real criminals."
Are today's children really going to be made to feel like it's their 'low level trouble' that is actively stopping the police from going after rapists and killers? Really? That is now the responsibility of pissed 13 year olds?
By April 2009 the operation will be in place in 69 areas as part of the Government's Youth Crime Action Plan.