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Police quiz boy over protest
A 12-year-old trying to save his youth club was taken out of class to be quizzed by police over plans to protest outside Prime Minister David Cameron’s Witney office.
Nicky Wishart, who attends Bartholomew School, in Eynsham, set up a group on the Facebook website to save the village youth centre, which is threatened by spending cuts.
But the youngster was taken out of class on Tuesday, and said he was told by a policeman he could face arrest if there was any trouble.
Nicky, of Pelican Place, Eynsham, said the officer asked him why he set up the page and how many people were going to be there.
“The policeman said: ‘You do know if any riots break out then they will arrest people and you will be held responsible and you could be arrested because you organised it?’,” Nicky said last night.
“He also said: ‘Are you aware the anti-terrorist people are looking at your page?”
Nicky’s mother Virginia Phelps, 41, said she was proud of her son for taking a stand against the cuts and angry at the police’s actions.
She said: “I was absolutely outraged. I really could not believe the police had spoken to him. It was not like he had gone out shoplifting.
“I supported the protest as the youth club has been very beneficial for us as a family.”
Oxfordshire County Council is cutting funding for 20 youth centres across the county to save £4.2m, but said the facilities could stay open if volunteers step in to run them.
The 100-strong protest pass-ed off peacefully as planned on Friday outside Mr Came-ron’s constituency office.
But Nicky said the interrogation made him feel like a criminal. He added: “It was like they were trying to intimidate me and scare me away from doing it.”
“The youth club gives us something to do. There is nothing else in Eynsham.”
The family pointed out a teacher was present when Nicky was spoken to.
His stepfather, Dean Gallon, 40, said: “He is a 12-year-old boy who does not want his youth centre closed.
“What do they expect a 12-year-old to do? I do not know what the law is, but I thought if you are interrogating a child under 18 there should be a parent present? The way it was done was all wrong.”
Police spokesman Andrea Bennett said: “This was not (done) with the intention of dissuading him from organising it, but to obtain information regarding the protest to ensure his and others safety.
“As with any demonstration, we always aim to facilitate a peaceful protest.”
Nicky set up the Facebook group Save All UK Youth Centres, which now has 832 members.
Oxfordshire County Council and Bartholomew School were yesterday unavailable for comment.
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