Page last updated at 11:30 GMT, Monday, 17 November 2008

Father put in cells for smacking

Mark Frearson
Mark Frearson says police action was "over the top"

A father was arrested by police and locked in a cell overnight after smacking his son's bottom.

Mark Frearson's young son had wandered off alone after dark while they were at a Plymouth shopping centre together.

Mr Frearson, who is separated from the boy's mother, found his son in a park 10 minutes later and smacked him once.

But a passer-by reported it to Plymouth police and four officers arrived at his house, took him away and locked him in a cell awaiting questioning.

Mr Frearson, 47, a director at a parcel company, was released the next day at 1000 GMT, after the witness who had reported the smacking was interviewed and withdrew their accusation.

Mr Frearson has now made a formal complaint to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

He said the police reaction was "massively over-the-top" and the experience was traumatic for his son.

'Angry and bewildered'

He said: "I find it shocking how easy it is to have someone arrested. To think that all this happened on the back of one allegation.

"I appreciate the police's concern but I don't understand why they felt it necessary to arrest me and lock me up before interviewing me or the witness.

"I am still angry and bewildered at the events of that night."

The incident happened last Tuesday at about 1800 GMT at a shopping centre in Plymouth.

Mr Frearson had told his son to stay with him, but when he realised he had left the shop there was a search and he was found outside.

He said he smacked his son and the two returned home.

At about 2100 GMT police arrived saying a witness had reported Mr Frearson for assault.

The officers then took the boy to his mother's home and Mr Frearson was arrested and taken to the police station.

A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall police said that because a formal complaint had been made they could not comment on the incident.

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