Although still only 17, Kesia Leatherbarrow had a long history of self-harming and mental health problems when she was arrested by police in December 2013 for having a small amount of cannabis.
She was kept in the cells all weekend, where she became distraught, banging her head and pulling out her hair, before being sent to court on Monday morning. The court bailed her to come back the next day but a few hours later she was found dead in a friend’s garden.I'm tempted to say we didn't lose a potential brain surgeon.
Dr Sarah Wollaston MP highlighted earlier this week the “scandal” of vulnerable children and young people being given mental health assessments in police cells for want of anywhere more suitable to take them.Except she didn't hang herself in her cell, but when she'd been released...
Kesia was the third 17-year-old from the Manchester area in three years to die soon after being arrested on minor charges. Neither of the previous two, Eddie Thornber who died in 2011, or Joe Lawton who died in 2012, had any history of mental vulnerability. Both boys had been popular and high achieving.
Like Kesia, Joe was kept overnight in the cells before being released, Eddie was held for a shorter period – but both boys’ parents believe their sons killed themselves because they were traumatised by their arrests and thought their futures were ruined.So...the police shouldn't have arrested them?I wonder just what those 'minor charges' were..
What is needed is greater investment in this area and a fundamental shift in thinking that recognises that whether they have been arrested or detained because of mental health concerns, in the words of Brincat Baines: “The police station is no place for any child.”Except when they've been suspected of committing crimes. And a 17 year old is, increasingly, no 'child'.