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Spending a Couple of Nights in a Police Cell: The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and Custody in Police Cells

NCJ Number
Maartje Berger; Carrie van der Kroon
Date Published
August 2011
4 pages
This study examined the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the increasing number of minors being held in police cells in the Netherlands.
Major findings from the study on the custody of minor suspects in police cells in the Netherlands include the following: the Netherlands have not implemented a child friendly policy for minors in police cells; the detection of crime is of higher interest to justice officials than the best interests of the child; while the number of minors interrogated by police has fallen between 2008 and 2010, the number of minors detained for one or more nights in a police cell has risen during the same period; data on minors held in police cells is not readily available; the maximum detention time for minors in the Netherlands is 16 days, 15 hours, too long compared to countries such as Belgium, Germany, and Finland where the maximum detention time is 24 hours; and not enough alternatives to detention are available in the Netherlands. Additional findings from the study not that the right to information and legal assistance for minors should be improved, that police and judicial professionals are not well versed in working with children, that the use of coercion and violence towards children are not prohibited by Dutch law, and that a lack of adequate supervision exists for minors in police custody. This report examined the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UN CRC) in the Netherlands and the increasing number of minors in that country that are being held in police cells. The findings indicate that the Netherlands have failed to comply with the articles of the UN CRC concerning custody of minors by the police. Recommendations to improve the Netherlands' compliance with the UN CRC are included in the main report.