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OCA report harrowing conditions of children in police lock-up

Published:Thursday | February 18, 2010 | 9:14 AM

The Office of the Children’s Advocate (OCA) is raising fresh concerns about children in police lock ups.

The Children’s Advocate, Mary Clarke, has presented a special 11-page report to Parliament outlining her concern.

The Children’s Advocate said two weeks ago, a team from her office visited the Free-Port Police Lock up in Montego Bay, St James where 21 children were observed in four cells.

In cell one, the four boys who were placed there were only allowed to use the bathroom once a day.

According to the children’s advocate, all 21 children were on 24-hour lock down because there was no staff to monitor them outside.

It was also found that because of the limited space, children committing major and minor crimes and those deemed to be uncontrollable are placed together.

These conditions are against the minimum standards of the United Nations and the local Child Care and Protection Act.

It was also found that there was no provision for the children to continue their education and that their sleeping arrangements were cruel and inhumane.

To make matter worse, some children are not taken to court within the stipulated 48-hour period.

Some of the children claimed that their parents were not informed of their arrests and the Child Development Agency was also unaware.