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Downs Teen, 19, Arrested For Going Into School On Bank Holiday Monday

May 6, 2014

This is crazy. The police were, of course, right to go to the school, as the alarm went off. However, once reaching the incident, surely they should have tried to ask him some questions at the scene before arresting him?

This case proves yet again how desperately the police need full training in how to recognise all disabilities, and how to behave towards disabled people.

A teenager with Down’s Syndrome was arrested, handcuffed and held in a police cell for nine “terrifying” hours after trying to go to school on the Bank Holiday.

Abdul Al-Faisal, 19, was questioned on suspicion of burglary after setting off the alarm at Haringey Sixth Form Centre in White Hart Lane, Tottenham, at 10am yesterday.

He had left his favourite Chicago Bulls basketball cap in the classroom and wanted to collect it.

Police responding to the alarm raced to the school and after scanning CCTV identifed what they described as a “male suspect”. Abdul was arrested and taken to the cells for questioning. His worried parents called police to report their son missing after searching streets near his home in Hornsey for two hours.

They were horrified to learn he had been apprehended around an hour earlier.

His mother, who is lodging a formal complaint against the Met, said on arrival at the police station she found her confused son in a cell without his shoes or coat, in tears.

His fingerprints had been taken, he had been swabbed for DNA and his details had been put on record, his parents say.

Nine hours later, after the intervention of a lawyer and the college’s head of disability and learning support, he was released with a caution for burglary which will remain on his criminal record.


Ms Al-Faisal told the Standard: “Anyone can see my son has Down’s Syndrome. He has the mental capacity of a ten to 12-year-old.

“Because of his condition he has a strong attachment to things and that’s why he went to school because he just wanted his Chicago Bulls hat. That’s his favourite basketball team.

“I’m extremely disappointed with the way police handled him.” 

Abdul left his home in Hornsey on his own and is thought to have walked three miles to the college, where he studies creative arts, and reportedly climbed through an open window, triggering the alarm.

Police arrived and found Abdul inside the building having located his cap.

Ms Al-Faisal said: “It was terrifying. I was totally alarmed when they told me he was involved in a burglary.

“I went into the police station and my son was sitting in a cell crying. They had taken his coat and his shoes. He was terrified.

“I explained to the officers he had Down Syndrome’s and expected them to release him.

“But one officer said that didn’t give him the right to break into the school. I told him a child with Down’s Syndrome does not have the capacity to understand. They had no sympathy.

“They fingerprinted him, photographed him, took DNA swabs and he was put on the system. He was treated as a criminal. He shouldn’t have been questioned without us being there. They should have just told him not to do it again and taken him home.”

After being arrested at 10am, Abdul remained in a cell until 7.30pm when he was released. 

Ms Al-Faisal added: “He doesn’t realise the situation. He is shaken up and so distressed. He has never been in trouble before.”

His father Muhammad Al-Faisal said: “When they found out my son had Down’s Syndrome it should have been dismissed immediately. We said they were making a terrible mistake.”

A police spokesman said Abdul had been treated as a vulnerable person and correct procedures were followed.

He said: “Police were called at shortly before 10am yesterday following an alarm activation. Officers attended and found evidence suggesting a break-in.

“A check of CCTV identified a suspect and a search of the premises found a male on the premises. The male was arrested on suspicion of burglary and taken to a north London police station.

“The male arrested, aged 19, was noted as being a vulnerable adult and safeguards provided for vulnerable detainees by the PACE Code of Practice were followed. He was later given a caution for burglary and released.” Abdul has been a student at the college, which his parents said he “loves”, for four years.

He was featured in a national photography exhibition in 2012 called Shifting Perspectives, for challenging preconceptions of those with Down’s Syndrome.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. allan j permalink
    May 6, 2014 7:05 pm

    “The male arrested, aged 19, was noted as being a vulnerable adult and safeguards provided for vulnerable detainees by the PACE Code of Practice were followed

    or maybe not but of course the now amended log will show it was

  2. May 6, 2014 8:13 pm

    Reblogged this on sdbast.

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