A father was arrested and spent a night in the cells after smacking his seven-year-old son for wandering off alone after dark.
Harry Frearson had been told by his father Mark to stay with him as they shopped in Plymouth. But he wandered off, and when Mr Frearson found him in a nearby park after a search, he smacked him once.
The two went home, but after a witness reported the incident four police officers arrived at Mr Frearson’s home later on that evening to arrest him.
Harry was forced to strip to his underwear for an examination. “He’s a very shy boy and it must have been scary,” said Mr Frearson.
“One minute he was watching Cartoon Network and the next he was stripping in front of a policeman.”
The little boy was then taken to his mother’s home, while Mr Frearson was taken to the police station where he was kept in overnight.
Harry’s mother said: “Harry was white as a sheet when the police turned up with him. He couldn’t understand why they had taken him away from his dad.”
He was released the following morning after the witness was interviewed and withdrew their complaint.
Mr Frearson said the police’s response was “massively over-the-top” and the experience was traumatic for his son.
He said: “They seemed far too ready to presume me guilty and then cause distress to my son by taking him from me.”
He has now lodged a complaint with the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
A recent Commons attempt to ban smacking failed after time ran out before MPs could debate it.
Children’s minister Beverley Hughes has made it clear that the Government does not want to ban smacking, arguing that parents who smack their naughty children should not be criminalised.
She said in a statement: “If we put a ban on smacking into legislation it would mean in practice that a mother who gives her child a mild smack on the hand when they refuse to put back sweets picked up at the supermarket checkout could end up facing criminal charges.
“When we reviewed this issue, as recently as last year, and surveyed parents, we found that while fewer and fewer of them are using smacking as a form of discipline, the majority said they wouldn’t support a ban.”
Under the current law in England, Wales and Northern Ireland parents may use ‘reasonable chastisement’ as long as it does not leave more than a transitory mark on the child.
In Scotland, smacking is allowed but use of implements, shaking or blows to the head are outlawed.