A MAGISTRATE who is used to banging up criminals became a prisoner himself for a day to raise money for a children’s charity.

Malcolm Bell from Buckhurst Hill, who sits at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court, was bundled onto former naval ship HMS President, moored at Blackfriars, where he had to hit the phones to raise sponsorship for Action for Children before he could be “released.”

“The idea was to make £10,000,” he said. “Eight of us were captured and we’re all high profile people.

“We were incarcerated for two and a half hours on the HMS President, ringing around to get people to sponsor us.”

The 65-year-old retired IT company director, who lives in Forest Edge, is deputy chairman of the Essex Family Proceedings Court, which deals with children being placed into care.

“It’s not the reason I am supporting Action for Children,” he said. “I’ve been a lifelong supporter, but the two tie up.

“We’re working with children who care for their parents and provide them with respite time.

“A lot of these children are bathing their parents, having to make breakfast and when they go to school, they can’t relax.

“The idea is they can go and play like children should.”

Anyone who wants to sponsor Mr Bell should visit http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/MalcolmBell.