Don't let kids sleep in jail for minor crimes: Child advocate

Police guard in a detention center
Police guard in a detention centerPhoto: Politie

Children's Ombudsman Margrite Kalverboer wants the police to stop making underage suspects spend a night in jail for a minor offense. Minors who are arrested should not only be seen as a suspect, but also as a child, Kalverboer said in a new report, ANP reports.

"It is very drastic for children to be locked up in a cell, especially at night", the child advocate said. "If children are locked up, the police must be able to explain why."

One reason for a child to spend a night in jail pending questioning, is that they are entitled to an assigned lawyer. That right lapses if they are sent home. That must change, Kalverboer said. She wants the National Police to investigate whether it is possible to let a child await questioning at home. She also calls for guidelines on when a child can be detained. 

Kalverboer asked the Ministry of Justice and Security to ensure that assigned lawyers are always available for minor suspects.