17 year olds in police custody
Wednesday 7 November 2012
Howard League supports legal action on 17 year olds in police custody
The Howard League for Penal Reform has today (7 November 2012) welcomed the news that a judicial review being taken by Just for Kids Law has been given permission to proceed to court. This important case will highlight a serious anomaly in the law, where the Police and Crime Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) fails to treat 17 year olds as children.
This law, alongside the routine failure of the police to treat children as children, is out of kilter with domestic and international provisions which recognise that those aged 17 and under are children. The case will argue that PACE therefore contravenes both international and domestic law and denies 17 year olds the additional protections afforded to children under PACE. The lawyers representing will ask the court to examine the failure of the Metropolitan Police Service to inform a 17 year old’s mother that he had been detained or to provide access to an appropriate adult while he was in police custody.
The Howard League is supporting Just for Kids Law and has offered to provide expert evidence based on the organisation’s extensive work with children in conflict with the law.
Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, Frances Crook, said: “We welcome this case taken by Just for Kids Law and are pleased to be supporting it.
“It is simply wrong that 17 year olds in police custody are not considered children and not afforded protections such as access to an appropriate adult.
“As it stands, vulnerable 17 year olds will only be provided with access to an appropriate adult at the discretion of the police. Yet we are aware that this discretion is seldom exercised.
“Recently we were contacted by a 17 year old who was denied an appropriate adult by his local police force despite being in the care of the local authority. His foster father, who was known to the police, offered to act as an appropriate adult but this was also denied, despite the fact that the foster father is a former police officer, a former probation officer, a former appropriate adult and currently a social worker.
“We have taken statements from this 17 year old and his foster father and will be providing their testimony to the court as part of this important judicial review.”
Last year the Howard League published research into the overnight detention of children in police custody which called on the government to afford the same protections to 17 year olds in police custody as other children.
Notes to editors
- Andrew Neilson
020 7241 7868
ISDN line number 020 7923 4196
- Just for Kids Law can be contacted at:
- Caoilfhionn Gallagher, counsel instructed on behalf of Just for Kids Law, can be contacted at: