Since Just for Kids Law was founded, youth justice has been a crucial focus of our work. As well as operating a specialist criminal law practice, we campaign for systemic change to prevent children being treated as criminals and ensure that the voices of children and young people are heard when they do get pulled into the criminal justice system.
We have a proud history of engaging in strategic litigation to bring about change and protect the rights of children and young people in the criminal justice system. This includes:
- Successfully changing the law to ensure access to appropriate adults for 17-year-olds.
- Intervening in a case that reset the law on joint enterprise.
- Securing a landmark Supreme Court ruling on the disclosure of youth criminal records.
We continue with this work through our campaign against the holding of children in police cells, while we have also taken a legal challenge against the government over the use of children as spies by the police and other investigative agencies.
In addition to legal challenges, we engage in lobbying and campaigning, with our work recently focusing on stopping children being trapped in the justice system by challenging child imprisonment and government plans for new Knife Crime Prevention Orders, while we keep track of police use of force against children through our State of Children's Rights report. We have also been working for many years to improve the quality of legal representation for children in court. Our work has led to the Bar Standards Board making it a requirement for barristers to register and declare they have the specialist knowledge, skills, and competencies to work with children and young people. However, further reform is needed and it was highly significant when last year with our support the Ministry of Justice set up a sector-led working group to improve the quality of youth court legal representation. We continue to campaign to raise professional standards among professionals working with young people in the criminal justice system through the work of our Youth Justice Legal Centre.
We also produce and distribute resources to promote awareness of young people's rights in the justice system in relation to issues such as stop and search, questioning in the police station and appearing in court.