What is a juvenile?
The Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) defines a juvenile as a person “who appears to be under the age of 17.” As a result, the various obligations in PACE that afford protection to those under 17 do not apply. Elsewhere in the criminal justice system, a person is not considered to be an adult until they are 18 years old.
The case of R(on the application of HC) -v- Secretary of State for the Home Department & The Commissioner of the Police of the Metropolis involved a judicial review of The Home Secretary’s refusal to amend Code C to give juvenile rights to 17 year olds. In HC, a 17 year old was arrested, not allowed to call his mother, given none of the rights a juvenile would get under PACE and released without charge after twelve hours in custody. The court found that not allowing him to contact his mother breached Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the right to private and family life) and also concluded that it was unlawful to treat 17 year olds as adults.
The government has confirmed that they will not appeal the decision and now must amend Code C to ensure that 17 year olds are treated as juveniles.
Andrew Guile, Solicitor/Director
Posted on Tuesday, 18th June 2013