Unicef has criticised the UK judicial system for locking up children allegedly involved in the August riots and warned ministers that they are likely to be in breach of their UN obligations to children’s rights.

The UN children’s fund said official figures showing that 45% of all under 18s detained on charges of rioting and looting had no previous criminal history were “very worrying”, and represented a possible breach of the 1989 UN convention on the rights of a child.

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