It may be advisable to warn your children that Naughty Nanny is on the prowl again. This time she is looking for those children who have the cheek to build tree houses.
Tree houses, you see ladies and gentlemen, are the work of the devil and are banned!
Sam Cannon, Amy Higgins and Katy Smith (12-year-old friends planning to build themselves a den in a cherry tree) from Halesowen, West Midlands, found this out to their cost recently.
The kids climbed the 20ft tree, then found themselves frogmarched to a police station and locked in cells for up to two hours.
Nanny's ever vigilant police then removed the childrens' shoes, took mugshots, DNA samples and mouth swabs.
Funny that gangs of yobs, criminals, drug dealers and other assorted scumbags are not treated in the same way isn't it?
Nanny's police told the children they had been seen damaging the tree, which is in a wooded area of public land near their homes.
The police interrogated the children, who admitted that they had broken some loose branches because they had wanted to build a tree house.
Hardly worth a DNA swab is it?
Nanny felt otherwise, and seriously considered charging the children with criminal damage. However, very graciously for Nanny, she eventually decided that a reprimand (the equivalent of a caution for juveniles) was sufficient.
The hapless children will now have their details will be kept on file for up to five years.
Is this a police state or what?
Sam's father, Nicholas, said:
"The children did not deserve to be treated in the way they were.
A simple ticking-off by officers would have been sufficient.
The children didn't realise they were doing anything wrong,
they didn't deliberately set out to damage the tree.
Sam's eyes were swollen and red when they let him out of the cell
as he had been crying.
He is a placid child and has never been in trouble before.
When I got the phone call from the police to say Sam was in custody
I thought he'd done something-like steal something from a shop.
I couldn't believe it when he said all he had done was break some loose branches off a tree.
To detain them,
DNA them and treat them that way was simply cruel and an over-reaction by the police.
Generations of children have played in that tree
and my son and his friends won't be the first to have thought of building a tree den."
Superintendent Stuart Johnson, operations manager at Halesowen police station, said:
"I support the actions of my officers who responded to complaints from the public about kids destroying an ornamental cherry tree by stripping every branch from it,
in an area where there have been reports of anti-social behaviour.
A boy and two girls were arrested
and received a police reprimand for their behaviour.
West Midlands Police deals robustly with anti-social behaviour.
By targeting what may seem relatively low-level crime
we aim to prevent it developing into more serious matters."
You will note that he happily ignored commenting on why the police needed DNA samples.
I assume then that the crime statistics for drug offences, assaults, robbery, knife crime etc in the West Midlands area are at an all time low?
Please can residents of the West Midlands comment on this.
Rod Morgan, chairman of the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales, said:
"It's my opinion that too many children are being criminalised for behaviour that could be dealt with informally
by ticking them off and speaking to their parents."
Doubtless the police will log this as a success in their records, which Nanny uses to judge the efficiency of the police.
After all, it is easy to arrest a 12 year old; seemingly not that easy to break up a gang of yobs, terrifying a council estate, or crack down on scumbag drug users/pushers.
It's not the quality of crime prevention that counts in Britain, it's the quantity!