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Just for Kids Law, the award-winning charity, has launched the ‘No Child in Cells’ campaign calling for an end to the widespread practice of detaining children, some as young as eight, in adult cells in police stations. This happens despite legal obligations on local authorities and police forces to ensure that if children are charged and refused bail, instead of being detained in a police cell they are transferred to local authority accommodation.
In January 2015, the then Home Secretary and now Prime Minister, Theresa May MP, and the Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan MP, sent a joint letter to all local authorities across England, drawing their attention to the Ministers’ concerns that there were “serious problems in some areas across England” in complying with the requirements of s. 38(6), Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 and s. 21, Children Act 1989. These provisions together mean that there are very limited circumstances in which children can be detained post-charge in police custody, and when a request is made by police to a local authority for non-secure accommodation there is an absolute duty to comply.
Legal action has now been taken by one child against a local authority which failed to accommodate him when police requests were made. A vulnerable 14 year old boy who has been kept in a police cell overnight on multiple occasions since March this year because the London Borough of Islington(despite requests from the Metropolitan Police) did not provide alternative accommodation for him. Hodge, Jones and Allen solicitors act for him, with barristers Caoilfhionn Gallagher and Mary-Rachel McCabe of Doughty Street Chambers. The case is supported by Just for Kids Law as part of the #NoChildinCells campaign. Evidence in support of the boy’s challenge has been provided by the Children’s Commissioner for England, the Howard League for Penal Reform and the National Appropriate Adult Network. In response to the claim, Islington has now stated that it has decided to set up a formal review of the issue.
Just for Kids Law’s press release about the launch of the campaign today is available here and details of the campaign can be seen here. The campaign includes this short video created for Just for Kids Law by digital agency Adjust Your Set:
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