Page last updated at 08:22 GMT, Wednesday, 26 August 2009 09:22 UK

Apology after girl held in cell

Police have apologised after a 10-year-old girl was arrested, handcuffed and detained for six hours including being held in a police cell in Devon.

Shannon Blake from Tiverton was arrested along with two older youths following an incident in a park.

Her father Michael said he received a phone call from officers more than two hours after her arrest.

Chief Insp Ivan Trethewey of Devon and Cornwall Police said the phone call should have been made an hour earlier.

Police are investigating the initial incident which took place at a park near where Shannon lives.

She was arrested and taken to a police station following a disturbance involving about 20 youths on 18 August.

Her father, lorry driver Michael Blake, 55, said he was called by police at 1715, two and a quarter hours after Shannon was arrested. She was released from Heavitree Police Station in Exeter at 2045.

'Appropriate adult'

He said: "I had a little bit of a set-to with the custody sergeant.

"I lost my temper on the phone and swore at him and he told me I was not an appropriate adult so I would not be allowed into the interview with Shannon."

He said he went to Exeter police station and was told he would not be let in and a social services worker was acting as an adult.

For a 10-year-old to be arrested I think is way over the top
Father, Michael Blake

He said: "If your daughter is arrested at three o'clock and you don't receive a call until five-fifteen I'm sure most parents would be a little abusive over the phone."

He added: "For a 10-year-old to be arrested I think is way over the top.

"Why didn't they say 'We'll take you home to your dad and we'll sort it out there'?"

Ch Insp Trethewey said he was concerned about the time that police took to call Mr Blake.

"I would have expected it to have been an hour quicker than that and I would apologise if that took longer than it should."

'Tender years'

He said it was "very unusual" for officers to arrest a 10-year old but added, "at the time of arrest they may not have known the age of the individual".

He said handcuffs can be used on anyone as long as officers felt it was necessary.

"Normally we would try and find an appropriate holding room for someone of tender years, but if that is not available then they can be placed in a cell.

"Sadly, sometimes people of that age do need to be put in a cell."

He explained that police could take the decision that individuals may be denied access to a juvenile if they are deemed unsuitable.

No formal complaint has been made to police but Ch Insp Trethewey admitted there were a "couple of things we could improve on".

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