In the Media

Shauneen Lambe: police detention and children?s rights

PUBLISHED November 15, 2012

Thursday 15 November 2012 by John Hyde

Why is she in the news? Led her charity's legal challenge against the Home Office over the detention in custody by police of a 17-year-old on suspicion of robbery. He was held for 12 hours and could not tell his parents why he had disappeared. No charges were brought.

Just for Kids Law has been granted permission to bring a judicial review of police practices, arguing that the existing Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 is superseded by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Thoughts on the case: 'There is an anomaly that 17-year-olds are treated as adults in police stations, then as juveniles when they go to youth court. We want an appropriate adult to be with them. The child specifically asked officers to inform his mother of his arrest and ask for her assistance but this did not happen.

'His mother thought he was on the bus coming home and heard nothing - that must have been terrifying for her.'

Why found Just for Kids Law? 'I came to the bar first. I loved being a barrister but I found the lives of the people I was working with were not changing. I went to the US and qualified as an attorney and worked with Clive Stafford Smith, which was transformative for me.'

Career high? 'When a client was sentenced to death as a 17-year-old, I carried on working for five years on his case until DNA tests saw him cleared and off death row. I got to walk down the aisle with him at his sister's wedding where I was a bridesmaid.'

Career low? 'Being in the Louisiana court when the death penalty was given for that case was just awful. The district attorney wore a tie with a picture of a hangman's noose.'