17 Year Olds in Custody Must be Treated as Children

  • Police back the decision for children aged 17 to be treated as children when in custody, and request a change in legislation.

    A judge has ruled that the policy to treat 17 year olds as adults when in custody was "incompatible" with human rights law, and the current government legislation does not match.

    Those under 16 are entitled to contact their parents or seek advice and assistance from an independent "appropriate" adult, but currently this is not the same for 17 year olds, despite legally being classed as children.

    The case was raised by Hughes Cousins-Chang, who was arrested by Metropolitan Police for a suspected robbery, detained for more than 12 hours and strip searched at a police station, but subsequently found to be innocent.

    Lord Justice Moses made the ruling as the current law disregards the definition of a child in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child:

    I conclude that it is inconsistent with the rights of the claimant and his mother, enshrined in Article 8 (of the European Convention on Human Rights) for the secretary of state to treat 17-year-olds as adults when in detention.

    The ruling follows the high profile deaths of two 17-year-olds, Joe Lawton and Edward Thornber, who killed themselves after getting into trouble with police.

    Senior police officers from the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) are backing the change to the law so that 17-year-olds are treated as juveniles in custody and their parents are informed if they are arrested.

    The chief constable of Cleveland police, Jacqui Cheer, who is the ACPO lead officer on issues involving children and young people, said:

    The position of 17-year-olds as adults under Pace [the Police and Criminal Evidence Act] is not consistent with the way in which they are treated under other legislation, for example, the Children's Act 1989 and the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 not to mention the UN convention on the rights of the child.

    We find this incongruous and would support a change in legislation to bring Pace into line with other legislation and for 17-year-olds to be treated as juveniles when in police custody.

    However, this would require a change in legislation and is therefore properly a matter for government.

    We do not feel it would appropriate for the police service to voluntarily act in contravention of legislation.

    During the court hearing, the high court court heard that it could add an extra £21m to policing bills to reschedule 17-year-olds as children, and that part of the reason why the government have not changed this was down to the costs involved.

    A Home Office spokesman said:

    The Government believes the welfare and protection of all those held in police custody, especially young people, is extremely important.

    We accept the court's judgment and will consider the next steps we should take to implement the changes.


Related articles

  • Read More

    Prisons told to adjust for older inmates

    Ombudsman Nigel Newcomen says prisons will have to take on "care home and even hospice" roles in future, reports the BBC. He said: "It is remarkable that the fastest growing segment of the prison...

  • Read More

    Charities are best at reducing re-offending

    A report by charity thinktank New Philanthropy Capital has found that 28% of charity projects have helped to reduce reoffending compared to 19% of private companies, reports the Guardian.The report...

  • Read More

    It could become illegal to deny offenders legal aid

    It could become illegal to deny prisoners in England and Wales legal aid so that they are able to effectively challenge the conditions they are held under, rules the court of appeal, reports the...

  • Read More

    Offender’s rehabilitation is delayed by legal aid restrictions

    The court of appeal has been told that thousands of prisoners are being prevented from starting rehabilitation due to them being denied legal aid for parole board hearings, reports the...

  • Read More

    New supported accommodation for ex-offenders in Birmingham

    Trident Reach the People Charity's new Reach House has been built to provide 24-hour supported accommodation for young offenders to help support them getting back into the community after their...

  • Read More

    Staff working with young offenders criticised

    A report by three inspection bodies has said that staff aimed at helping reduce re-offending in young offenders are "too often suspicious of each other" reports the BBC.The report, by the Care...

  • Read More

    Family homes are needed to help offenders re-offending

    A study by HM Inspectorate of Prisons, HM Inspectorate of Probation and Ofsted had found that almost one in five prisoners did not know where they would be living once they left jail, reports Inside...

  • Read More

    Ex-offenders ‘lacking home and job'

    An inspection into resettlement provision for adult prisoners had followed 80 offenders after they left prison. Chief Inspector of Prisons Nick Hardwick said that it found the role of a prisoner's...

  • Read More

    Offenders placed in prison for a day in a bid to cut re-offending

    The Centre for Social Justice has urged the government to look to the US where this approach appears to work. The report has said that a third of people given community sentences re-offended within a...

  • Read More

    Inspection finds offenders with learning disabilities are not being supported

    The inspection looking into the treatment of offenders with learning disabilities within the criminal justice systems was conducted by HM Inspectorate of Probation, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary,...

Responding to the DWP Consultation:  Housing Benefit Reform - Supported Housing "It was well-run, in a good location, and very useful.  I've only one suggestion; as the session went on it would perhaps have been useful for bullet points of general agreement about what should be in the sector response to be displayed and added to as the session went on, maybe on a flip chart. Regarding your response paper, I particularly like the answer you give to question 9.  In fact the general: "if it ain't broke don't fix it" response could be pushed harder." M.P. - Adref Ltd


Briefing Signup