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#nochildincells campaign

Just for Kids Law has launched the #nochildincells campaign to ensure children are not kept in police cells overnight.


The #nochildincells campaign recognises that children have special protections and are particularly vulnerable when they are arrested and held at the police station. Being arrested and held at a police station can be frightening and intimidating:

  • Police officers can avoid arresting children by arranging for children to attend police stations voluntarily to be interviewed. Any period of detention in a police station must be as short as possible, officers should take this into consideration when planning any arrest.1
  • Children should only be arrested when absolutely necessary (and never at school2 ).
  • Children held in police stations should have an appropriate adult.
  • Children should not routinely be placed in police cells. Custody sergeants should consider if they can be supervised in another suitable safe place in the police station.3
  • Children should only be held in a police cell overnight in the most exceptional cases.4
  • All decisions must focus on supporting the child’s needs and welfare.5

For more information see the #nochildincells campaign.


If you are concerned about a child who may have been detained in a police cell unlawfully you can contact us on

  1. Officers must take into account the age of a child or young person when deciding whether any of the Code G statutory grounds for arrest apply. They should pay particular regard to the timing of any necessary arrests of children and young people and ensure that they are detained for no longer than needed in accordance with paragraph 1.1 of Code C.  (back)
  2. “Juveniles  should  not  be  arrested  at  their  place  of  education  unless  this  is  unavoidable. When a juvenile is arrested at their place of education, the principal or their nominee must be informed. [Paragraph 11D, PACE Code C]  (back)
  3. “A  juvenile  shall  not  be  placed  in  a  police  cell  unless  no  other  secure  accommodation  is available and the custody officer considers it is not practicable to supervise them if they are not  placed  in  a  cell  or  that  a  cell  provides  more  comfortable  accommodation  than  other secure accommodation in the station.  A juvenile may not be placed in a cell with a detained adult.” [para 8.8, PACE Code C]  (back)
  4. “Officers should avoid holding children overnight in police cells unless absolutely necessary.” [Section 2, Detention and custody: Children and young persons, College of Policing, July 2015]  (back)
  5. Section 11 Children Act 2004  (back)