A Cookstown mum has hit out at the way police stopped and searched her daughter - who has just turned 16 - as she walked home on Tuesday.
Demi-Lee Scott was reported to have left her father’s house in Coolnafranky Park around 9.40pm, just minutes before a police car with sirens blaring, stopped in front on her at the bus stop across from the leisure centre entrance.
The youngster, who has just finished her GCSEs at Cookstown High School, said she walking along the road home while listening to music, when two officers got out of the car, quizzed her and conducted a personal search.
And her mum Leanne is furious about the way her “young looking” daughter was treated “like a gangster” - because she is still a child.
“She’s never even been in trouble before,” she explained.
“I am not pleased. She was just walking along minding her own business.”
Asked if there was any reason she could think of that officers stopped her child, she said, the youngster’s dad had been in trouble in the past, but not recently.
“I have been there before and they never stopped me,” she added, before going on to explain how her daughter has never so much as acted in an anti-social way.
“I’m not happy with it,” she continued, “How dare they put on blue lights and coming flying into her like she’s a gangster or something. She’s a child.
“She’s not one of them 16-year-olds who are always out drinking. She’s a home bird and she’s always in the house. She has a selected few friends and they would maybe go to the cinema at the weekend.
“If you saw her in the street you wouldn’t think she was 16. She’s small and petite,” she added,
“I don’t see why they picked on her. I could see through it if she was out causing anti-social behaviour, causing trouble, or bringing trouble to the door, but she has done nothing like that.
“I am not happy at the way it was all handled.”
Leanne went on to explain how the officers asked Demi-Lee where she had been, why she was there and if she had anything to hide and that if she did, they would find it.
“Demi-Lee said ‘you can’t search me without my mum’ and the PC turned around and said ‘I can, watch me’ and then ripped my daughter in behind the back of the police car,” she explained.
“She (the female officer) put the plastic gloves on and put her hand down the front of my daughter’s jeans and in round her under her vest and all.
“I haven’t slept all night, I am just so angry.”
Police said the date of birth they have for Demi-Lee would make her an adult, but the Mail has seen both her passport and birth certificate, which clearly state that she just turned 16 on June 23.
A spokesperson for the PSNI said: “The use of stop and search powers are essential in keeping the public safe and are used only when necessary, to protect the community, and the police officers who serve it.
“The Police Service’s use of Stop and Search has, and will continue to be scrutinised by the Policing Board’s Human Rights adviser and the Independent Reviewer of the Justice and Security (NI) Act 2007.
“Any member of the public who has a complaint in relation to Stop and Search can bring it to the Police Ombudsman’s office.”
Mid Ulster SDLP Councillor, Tony Quinn, said: “Having been contacted by the family, my advice would be that they should make an official complaint to the Ombudsman and let officials deal with it.”