LONDON — A teenager has successfully challenged the policy of treating 17-year-olds in police custody as adults, not children.
The High Court ruled the policy was “incompatible” with human rights law. Under-17s are given greater protection.
The case was brought by Hughes Cousins-Chang, now 18, who had been kept in custody for 12 hours and strip-searched before being released on police bail.
The ruling follows the deaths of two 17-year-olds who killed themselves after getting into trouble with police.
Joe Lawton of Stockport and Edward Thornber of Didsbury, both Greater Manchester, had been arrested and treated as adults.
According to the Home Office, every year 75,000 17-year-olds are taken into police custody.
Those aged 16 and under are entitled to contact their parents or seek advice and assistance from an independent “appropriate adult”.
In his ruling today, Lord Justice Moses, sitting with Justice Kenneth Parker, said:
“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.”
To do so “disregards the definition” of a child in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the “preponderance of legislation affecting children and justice”, the judge said.
Cousins-Chang – who had never been any trouble with the police before – brought the challenge with the help of his uncle Christopher Chang.
Now 18 years old, the court lifted an anonymity order on Cousins-Chang following the ruling. (BBC)