Teenage boy 'held prisoner for eight years'

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The Independent Online

A teenage boy claims to have been held prisoner in his own home for up to eight years, police said yesterday.

The boy, who is believed to be aged about 13, says he had never been allowed out of his north London home alone and has never been to school.

Now police, who found the boy wandering the streets in a distressed state near Tower Bridge earlier this year, are appealing to the public for help in identifying him.

He told detectives he had been living in Tottenham since he was five, and had been physically abused and prevented from leaving the house alone. He claims to have learned the little English he is able to speak from watching television.

It is not even known how he came to be wandering through Bermondsey when he was found on 8 March. Since then, he has started school and is being looked after by social services.

Police hope that by issuing a photo of the boy, they will be able to establish his identity and find out where he had been living.

Detective Sergeant Iain MacPherson said that police still do not know whether the boy was released or if he managed to escape. He is now doing "very well" and is settling in to his new life, DS MacPherson added.

Anyone who knows the boy, his family, or the circumstances of his life should contact the Child Protection Team in Camberwell on 020 7232 6356 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.