I want to give a memory of a fateful day back in 1996 when I was caught shoplifting and taken back to my adopted parents’ house by a male officer.

I was then 13 and had skipped school. I was a young Jamaican girl, first generation, living in Coventry. Me and few girls skipped school, sat in a park smoking, etc, and then we decided to try our luck at shoplifting some make-up.

I was excited and nervous. We seemed to be doing okay, until we tried to leave the shop. Then their security grabbed me. My friends ran and managed to escape. I was taken to the back office and, because of my age, the police were called.

I began crying. I knew I was in deep now. It seemed an age before the police turned up, and the officer lectured me and phoned my step-mum. I could hear her voice on the phone. The other officer, a woman, just stood in office, never saying a word, just giving me a look of contempt.

Eventually, I was driven home and the look on my step-mum face’s was like thunder. The officers thankfully declined her offer of a cup of tea. As soon as the door closed, I tried to make a run for it to my bedroom. I almost made it, but my step-mum grabbed my leg and pulled me back down the stairs.

The whipping began, first on my legs and arms, then my backside.

This was first time my step-mum actually yanked my school trousers down, and then my knickers down. The whipping went on forever and was very painful.

Anyway, I never stole again.

LN