The Little Crook

updated 11 July 2018

A Young Thief

It was a normal Saturday in a big Yorkshire town. A store detective had caught a youngster stealing.

The police were called. The police took the child to the police station.

The Child is Too Young

The normal procedure with young shoplifters is that they are held at the police station until they can be questioned. This requires an “independent adult”, either a parent or someone sent by the city’s social services department.

While in custody they are segregated from adult prisoners.

On this particular Saturday the cells were full, and the child was given a chair and told to sit where the custody sergeant could keep him in view.

The child gave his name and address, so the police could contact his parents. The address and the surname were not unknown to the police, but this was the lad’s first visit to the police station.

I Want My Brief

“My Brief” is criminal slang for “my lawyer”. So when this child said “I want my brief!” the custody sergeant was amused.

“Oh Yes. And who is your brief?”

“John Hastings”

John Hastings was one of the city’s leading criminal lawyers. Still, it was astonishing that the child of ten should know who John Hastings was.

“Well, I do not know if we can contact Mr Hastings”

“His mobile telephone number is….” and the child gave the telephone number accurately.

How Do You Know That?

The custody sergeant was astonished that the lad knew the telephone number.

“How do you know that?”

“It is pinned up beside the telephone at home.”

As the sergeant said to me,

“What chance has that child got of not going to prison? His parents are habitual criminals and he is going down that road.”

“We are just processing him until he books a long term cell at the local prison.”

Having asked for his lawyer, the telephone call had to be allowed. And Mr Hastings had his first conversation of many with this young criminal.

What Can Be Done?

The child was healthy and well dressed. The house was clean. There were no grounds for putting the child into care. And the file was opened on another young offender.