PRESS RELEASE

Just for Kids Law welcomes CRAE’s State of Children’s Rights 2014 Report, published today (Wednesday 19 November)

In response to CRAE’s data on strip-searching of children by police, Just for Kids Law youth justice barrister Kate Aubrey-Johnson said:

‘The police have very clear guidance on how to treat children who are arrested and detained at police stations. They are failing to adhere to it. It is extremely worrying that the police are systematically failing to protect children and subjecting them to humiliating and degrading searches. The results can be stark. In our experience, it is negative experiences such as these that shape the attitudes of children and young people towards the police. We hope the police will reflect on the findings of CRAE’s report and seek to change their practices and start treating children as children.’

She added:

‘There have been some significant positive changes. There are fewer children entering the criminal justice system and fewer children in custody, although the disproportionate increase in BME children in custody is of concern. We particularly welcome the increased use of out-of-court diversions for children. As the report highlights, children and young people who offend are among the most vulnerable and disadvantaged members of our society.

‘We remain extremely concerned that too many professionals in the youth justice system have no specialist training in working with children and young people. As the report correctly identifies, this can mean lawyers fail to take opportunities to divert children out of the court process, and do not spot when a child doesn’t have the capacity to understand the court process, so can’t participate properly.’

For further information contact Caroline O’Dwyer carolineo’dwyer@justforkidslaw.org; 020 3174 2279

Notes for editors

1. Kate Aubrey-Johnson is an experienced youth justice barrister, working with the Youth Justice & Strategic Litigation teams at Just for Kids Law on sabbatical from Garden Court Chambers.

2. Just for Kids Law is an award-winning charity which provides legal and other support to young people in difficulties with the law and campaigns for improvements in youth justice www.justforkidslaw.org

3. Report available from CRAE’s website: www.crae.org.uk