'Children in Police Custody' - Dr Miranda Bevan's Book Launch

Wednesday 5 June 2024, 6pm - 7.30pm, followed by drinks reception

Venue: Garden Court Chambers

Dr Miranda Bevan

Sarah Hemingway

Professor Layla Skinns

Dr Vicky Kemp

This event was brought to you by the Garden Court Chambers Children's Rights Team and Goldsmiths, University of London.

Date: Wednesday 5 June 2024
Time: 6pm-7:30pm, followed by drinks reception
Venue: Garden Court Chambers, 57-60 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London WC2A 3LJ  
Cost: Free, Invitation Only
Areas of Law: Children's Rights , Youth Justice & Child Rights , Criminal Defence , Claims Against the Police and Public Authorities

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Dr Miranda Bevan, in conversation with our Sarah Hemingway, Professor Layla Skinns and Dr Vicky Kemp, for the launch of her new book ‘Children in Police Custody’.

Miranda’s book shines a light on the hidden experiences of children in police detention. An episode in police custody is the single most common sustained experience of the criminal justice system for children in England and Wales. Yet child suspects have previously been largely overlooked in criminological research.  Drawing on the first comprehensive study in England and Wales to review the police custody process as a whole from the perspective of the child, tracing the child’s journey from arrest, through detention and interview, to release or remand.

Adopting a rights-based approach, the book investigates whether the legal framework provides effective protection for child suspects. From the detailed insights provided by young participants in the research, supplemented by fieldwork in custody blocks and additional adult interviews, the analysis reveals the complex challenges posed for children’s legal agency in the adversarial setting of the custody block, and evaluates the capacity of the available protections to enable their effective participation in that setting.

A parallel criminological exploration examines the intersecting adversities experienced by child suspects, and the complex power dynamics that they must navigate in police custody, to arrive at an understanding of the particular harms of police detention for children, and their longer term impact.

The discussion focused on the book’s closing calls for reform of the police custody process for children. How can we ensure that police custody is only used as a last resort for children? How should those few children who  must be detained be supported to enable their effective participation in the criminal justice process, both in custody and beyond?


Dr Miranda Bevan, Lecturer in Criminal Law and Criminal Justice, Goldsmiths University
Dr Miranda Bevan is a lecturer in law at Goldsmiths, University of London. Miranda has a legal background, having practised as a criminal barrister (at 2 Hare Court, Chambers of Jonathan Laidlaw QC, 2000-2012) before coming to academia. She has also worked on legal reform at the Law Commission and  at the Howard League for Penal Reform.  Her research focuses on the experiences of children and young people when detained as suspects in police custody, and more widely on the effective participation of children and vulnerable adults in the criminal justice process. 

Sarah Hemingway, Barrister, Garden Court Chambers
Sarah Hemingway regularly represents claimants, including children and other vulnerable detainees,  in civil jury trials, including multi-handed and multi-claim cases, often involving false imprisonment, assault and malicious prosecution, and on appeal. A major part of Sarah's practice involves civil claims against public bodies, with a particular focus on actions against the police. She represented the claimants in the two leading authorities on the necessity of arrest (Hayes v Chief Constable of Merseyside Police (2012) and more recently on the arrest of children (ST v Chief Constable of Nottinghamshire Police (2022)). Sarah is deputy first counsel to the Undercover Policing Inquiry, regularly represents bereaved families at Inquests and is regularly instructed in Judicial Review cases stemming from the criminal justice system.

Dr Vicky Kemp, Principal Research Fellow & Co-director Criminal Justice Research Centre, University of Nottingham
Dr Vicky Kemp is an experienced researcher having conducted extensive empirical studies into youth justice, police custody and police station legal advice. Funded by the Nuffield Foundation, she recently examined the impact of PACE on child suspects and, for the first time in England and Wales, this included engaging with children about their legal rights while held in police custody. In a second Nuffield funded study, she is working with Dr Miranda Bevan on piloting a Child First approach in police custody. She was a member of the Lord Chancellor’s Expert and Advisory Panel on the Criminal Legal Aid Review and is recognised internationally as an influential leader in the field of access to justice research. 

Professor Layla Skinns, Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Sheffield
A key focus of Professor Layla Skinns' research has been police detention, in England and Wales, but also in other parts of the Anglophone world. In this setting, she is interested in police powers and their relationship with the law, police cultures and police discretion, and furthermore, how this impacts on equality and on state-citizen relations. She is also interested in how the public – particularly detainees – perceive the police, which links her research to discussions about police legitimacy and to 'good' policing. Over the last 15 years, Professor Layla Skinns has led large police custody research projects funded by the British Academy, the Howard League for Penal Reform and the Economic and Social Research Council. The most recent of these is the 'good' police custody study, which sought to 'robustly' examine what is meant by 'good' police custody and to instigate changes to police custody policies and practices in England and Wales.

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