Why you shouldn’t tell your naughty children that the police will take them away


Parents should be careful about threatening their misbehaving children that the police will come to take them away, officers have warned.

Police in Bournemouth issued the warning after they overheard parents joke to their children at a Christmas market in Bournemouth, Dorset.

The remark prompted a police spokesman to post on social media: "We have a small favour to ask - quite a few parents have been joking with their under 10s 'look the police, they will take you away if you're naughty'.

"We politely ask that you don't joke in this way with young children."

'Too PC'

Residents have complained that the post is “too PC”, while some have said that police should be focused on fighting crime and preventing anti-social behaviour.

Jacqui Hampson said: "Instead of handing out parenting advice, Bournemouth police want to try handing out some anti-social behaviour orders and banning drug-dealers, addicts and alcoholics from public places.” She called on police to “stick to your own jobs and let parents manage their children”.

Pauline Naylor said it was an example of the police being “snowflakes”, while Kevin Tedder said: "We're heading towards a society where you can't say a thing."

Emma Bucknell said she was guilty of saying this to her children, but that she also encouraged them to approach police if they need help.

Some residents recalled that their own parents had made similar threats to them during their childhoods and dismissed the warning, saying that it was simply “fun banter”.

Others joked that, even if a child did commit a crime, the police would take “weeks to turn up”.

Sympathy towards police

Some parents were more sympathetic to the police. Sandie Pattemore said: "This has always annoyed me. Children should not be scared to go to the police for help."

Vikki Hargreaves said: "My son was taught the police were there to help and keep him safe."

One resident said she had “always told my daughter the police are here to keep us safe”, adding: “If people do wrong, then they take them away to keep us safe. Keep up the good work.”

In the statement on social media, a spokesman for Dorset Police said: "The Christmas market is an invaluable opportunity for children to interact with uniformed police officers and increase their understanding that we are here to help them, if they get lost or need us for anything else."

It is not the first time frustrated police officers have issued such a warning. In 2021, Melbourne Police Safer Neighbourhood Team, an arm of Derbyshire police, pleaded with parents to “stop telling your children we will take them away”.

"Sadly we often hear parents/guardians saying to children 'oh behave now, the police are here' or ‘you best behave or they will take you away',” said officers.

"We would encourage everyone not to say this. We spend a lot of time working with schools and engaging with children to make sure we are a 'friendly face' and that they get to know their local officers.

"Someone that they can come to if ever they are lost or in trouble. We don't want them too afraid to do that. If you see us out and about, don't be afraid to have a chat and engage with us."