Teenage girl arrested at school on 'nightmare' police treatment
A teenage girl who was arrested at school over claims of bullying has described her treatment by police as a "nightmare".
Emma Raymond, 16, from Nottingham, said she was held in custody for more than eight hours after being arrested in the middle of a lesson.
After questioning, Emma was charged with harassment, but the case was later dropped.
Nottinghamshire Police said it had received a complaint about the arrest.
"It's the worst thing I've ever experienced," Emma, who has waived her legal right to anonymity, told the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire programme.
She was arrested in January, when two police officers arrived at her school in response to claims she had bullied another teenage girl.
"I didn't get to say anything," Emma said. "The next thing I knew they were putting me back in the back of their police car.
"Other kids saw what happened. Everyone was talking about it - I could tell by the looks people gave me. It felt like everyone was judging me."
Emma said the arresting officers had refused to let her make a phone call on the way to the police station: "I just wanted to speak to my parents. They were treating me like a murderer."
When she arrived in the custody area, "men in cells were either side of me, banging and swearing", she said. "None of it made sense. I knew it wasn't true."
Police visited Emma's home and confiscated her tablet and laptop computer, which contained her GCSE coursework, she said.
"I didn't get it back until end of March, about a week before my deadlines," she said. "It was a nightmare. I feel like it's affected my GCSEs. I don't trust the police at all, not one bit."
Emma's father, Carl, said police had accused her of being the "ringleader of a hate campaign" against the other girl.
"I'm so frustrated and angry that it happened," he added. "They could have dealt with it so differently, just come round the house.
What happens when children are arrested?
- Anyone over 10 years old - the age of criminal responsibility - can be fingerprinted, photographed and searched in police custody, although sometimes parental consent is required
- Child suspects have the same rights as arrested adults, such as an entitlement to legal advice, but there are further requirements officers must follow for under-18s
- The police must try to contact a parent, guardian or carer as soon as possible to inform them of a juvenile's arrest, why they have been arrested and where they are being detained
- An appropriate adult - a parent or guardian, social worker, or an approved volunteer - must attend the police station and be present during questioning and any searches
- The College of Policing advises steps should be taken to minimise the time a young person spends in detention, but forces can apply to hold child suspects for up to 96 hours without charge for more serious offences
"She's had her DNA taken, finger prints, a mug shot. At no time was Emma's wellbeing, age and care taken into consideration."
In the year to March 2015, 94,960 people aged 10 to 17 were arrested in England and Wales, according to the Ministry of Justice.
Cyber bullying safety tips
- If you feel you are being bullied online, tell a parent or other adult straight away
- Most social networks have a way for users to report abuse
- Take screenshots or use the print screen button on a computer to record evidence of any bullying messages
- Protect any devices with a password or PIN
- Parents should educate children on the effects of cyber-bullying
- Charities such as Get Safe Online and Bullying UK can also provide help and advice
Sources: Get Safe Online and Bullying UK
"Being in custody can be extremely distressing and traumatic," said Shauneen Lambe, director of the legal charity Just for Kids. "You should only want to put children through it if it's absolutely necessary. It doesn't sound like that was the case for Emma."
Nottinghamshire Police said it had received a complaint, adding it "would be inappropriate for the force to comment further" at this point.
The Victoria Derbyshire programme is broadcast on weekdays from 09:00-11:00 on BBC Two and the BBC News Channel.