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Under 18s to be treated as 'children first' by Police

The National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC), which replaced the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) have set out in a document for how officers should deal with young people. It states that in all encounters with the police “it is crucial” that under-18s “be treated as children first".

The document calls on police to make efforts to identity the vulnerability of children and young people they deal with and respond effectively "in order to protect them from harm". It also states that police should seek a "full understanding" of the circumstances behind the young people who come to their attention stating that "It is unusual for a young person to be a serious offender without being a victim of circumstance or offending themselves."

Olivia Pinkney, Deputy Chief Constable for Sussex Police and the NPCC’s lead on children and young people, called on police to intervene early and prevent harm to children and young people.

"A core role for policing is to protect the vulnerable in our society. All forces need to use this strategy to better serve those who are vulnerable through age. It will make a difference to all children and young people across the country. Children and young people are not 'mini-adults' and the better our policing for them is now, the less they may need us in the future. Every interaction leaves a mark and we need to think carefully about what sort of mark that is. In our time of increasingly prioritised policing effort, this strategy will help forces focus on what is essential and what works."

The strategy also identifies four priority areas for the three-year period:

  • Understanding where improvements to stop and search are needed
  • Avoiding the unnecessary criminalisation of young people
  • Improving relationships with young people
  • Addressing the over-representation of looked-after children in the youth justice system.

 See the strategy document here.