British Transport Police

Part of Petition – in the House of Commons at 10:35 am on 22 May 1981.

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Photo of Kenneth Clarke Kenneth Clarke The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport 10:35, 22 May 1981

I have outlined the policy, which in the case of children of that age would include consultation with the social services department. I do not know whether the case as a whole was put to the department. The department may have been consulted on the question whether to prosecute the boy who was prosecuted. Off the cuff, I do not know whether it was explained to the social services department that two other boys were involved.

As the hon. Gentleman said, one of the other two boys was already at a remand centre. It was thought pointless to bring him back to be dealt with for what in his case was a minor offence of trespassing on the railway. The other boy was believed to be 12 years old. That is the source of the complaint. Unfortunately, the parent of that, child, deliberately or accidentally, misled the policeman who went to the house. The police were led to believe that the boy was 12 years old. In error, that child was not prosecuted. However, the third boy was prosecuted and was plainly not innocent of the offence. He was fined £10.

I suggest that the case does not give rise to a deep grievance, because the boy was rightly prosecuted and fined for trespass. The hon. Gentleman is saying only that the two other people were not prosecuted. One of them was not prosecuted because he was in more serious trouble and the other was not prosecuted because, unfortunately, his mother had apparently lied about his true age. That may give rise to a feeling of injustice, but it is not the worst case of injustice that I have heard of.