Neurodivergence Webinar Series: Part 4 - Neurodivergent Children in the Justice System

Tuesday 20 February 2024, 5.30pm - 6.30pm


Kate Aubrey-Johnson

Amanda Weston KC

Jennifer Twite

Ravi Mahey

Aika Stephenson

Dr Rhiannon Lewis

Lucy Barnes, LWC Co-Founder & Director

Garden Court Chambers is delighted to have hosted the fourth webinar in our series exploring neurodivergence in the justice system.

Date: Tuesday 20 February 2024
Time: 5.30pm - 6.30pm
Venue: Online  
Cost: Free
Areas of Law: Children's Rights

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Neurodivergent children are overrepresented in justice system. This webinar explored the underlying reasons for high prevalence of neurodivergence and from experts on how to support neurodivergent children and how to address the potential injustices for this group of children. We heard from those with lived experience and discussed the high prevalence of neurodivergence amongst certain cohorts, for example, children in care, and issues arising for children in the justice system. We discussed strategies for supporting these children and how to address overrepresentation and injustices.   

Speaker Panel

Kate Aubrey-Johnson, Barrister, Garden Court Chambers
Kate is a youth justice specialist barrister and mediator at Garden Court Chambers with experience as a criminal defence practitioner and public lawyer. She is a convenor of the Garden Court Children's Rights Team. Kate is co-author of the leading textbook Youth Justice Law and Practice (LAG, 2019), consultant editor for Halsbury’s Laws of England, Vol 27, Criminal Procedure (5th Edition) on proceedings involving children. She is a youth justice expert and is regularly called upon to give lectures and deliver training. She is a lead facilitator for a forthcoming Inns of Court College of Advocacy course for ‘Advocacy for Children in Conflict with the Law’ and she chairs the Ministry of Justice/Youth Justice Board’s Quality of Advocacy Working Group.

Kate was Highly Commended in Every Child Protected Against Trafficking (ECPAT) UK's 'Children's Champion Awards' for her commitment to supporting child victims of trafficking. She is the former Director of the Youth Justice Legal Centre (YJLC) at Just for Kids Law.

Amanda Weston KC, Garden Court Chambers
Amanda is a leading public and administrative law silk. She co-authors Judicial Review: A Practical Guide (Lexis Nexis) and is a member of the ‘A’ Panel of preferred Counsel who act for the Equality & Human Rights Commission. Amanda has acted in hundreds of asylum and human rights appeals including in high-profile and sensitive cases and those involving extradition. Her cases include gender and sexuality cases, complex political and religious cases and appeals for children and vulnerable adults. 

Amanda also acts in cases in the Family Division, Administrative Court and appeal courts where the rights of children and young people are in play. Her particular areas of ‘crossover’ expertise involve safeguarding, local authority corporate parenting duties, education and disability, deprivation of liberty, immigration and citizenship matters and sensitive cross-cultural areas including FGM, 'radicalisation', trafficking and forced marriage. She operates a 'trauma informed' practice, using her expertise in mental capacity law and safeguarding practice to inform her approach to the representation of vulnerable adults and their litigation friends in a wide range of cases

Jennifer Twite, Barrister Garden, Court Chambers
Jennifer is a specialist in youth justice and children’s rights. Her public law practice involves taking challenges regarding the disclosure of criminal records, criminal-justice-related judicial reviews and community care. Jennifer has been involved in a number of age assessment cases involving unaccompanied age-disputed individuals.

Jennifer has been involved in a number of high-profile cases involving the rights of children within the criminal justice system at all levels up to the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal. Including a recent challenge in the Court of Appeal on the criminalisation of those coming across in 'small boats'. She co-authored 'Youth Justice Law and Practice' and sits as a Deputy District Judge in the Magistrates’ Court. Jennifer was Head of Strategic Litigation at Just for Kids Law for seven years before joining Chambers.

Ravi Mahey, Consultant Solicitor, TV Edwards
Ravi Kaur Mahey is a solicitor who specialises in children law. As a member of the Law Society's Children Panel, she has extensive experience of representing neurodivergent children in legal proceedings and advocates for reform within the justice system and the workplace. Ravi herself was diagnosed as neurodivergent four years ago, and has personal experience of navigating the assessment process for children.

Aika Stephenson,  Co-Founder & Legal Director, Just for Kids Law
Aika founded Just for Kids Law alongside Shauneen Lambe in 2006. She is a solicitor and youth justice expert with years of experience representing young people in criminal proceedings and particularly those with Special Educational Needs. Since April 2017, she has led the organisation’s criminal work after Just for Kids Law was awarded its first criminal legal aid contract. In 2018, Aika was named Criminal Defence Lawyer of the Year, becoming the first individual to be awarded two LALY awards.

Dr Rhiannon Lewis, Consultant Clinical Psychologist
Dr Lewis is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist who has worked in the NHS for more than 20 years across different settings - including prisons, forensic hospitals and in the community. She has experience leading the implementation of trauma-informed care in youth custody and currently works as Clinical Lead for the South East London (SEL) Vanguard programme which aims to improve access to mental health support for marginalised young people who are at risk of community violence and exploitation.

Dr Lewis also works as an independent Chartered Psychologist offering leadership consultancy, supervision and Reflective Practice as well as an expert witness in criminal and family courts. She has a particular expertise in complex developmental trauma and forensic risk in children and young people.

Lucy Barnes, Future Pupil Barrister & Care Experienced Advocate
Lucy is a Future Pupil Barrister at East Anglian Chambers (commencing October 2024) and a TEDx Speaker. She is care experienced, having been placed into foster care at 13. She is also neurodivergent and advocates for the care experienced community as a keynote speaker. She is interested in the relationship between young people with care experience, Complex-Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD), Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and neurodivergence. Lucy passed the Scottish Law Society ‘Trauma-Informed Lawyer’ accreditation course in 2023 and is passionate about making legal practices in England and Wales more trauma-informed.

Neurodivergence in the Justice System

Our webinar series 'Neurodivergence in the Justice System', will cover a range of practice areas, recounting the experiences and examining the challenges faced by neurodivergent people involved in the justice system in England and Wales, whether as witnesses, defendants, lawyers or otherwise. These webinars will bring together experts from legal practice, academia, policy and other professionals to consider the flaws in the current system, identify instances of best practice and propound changes that could be made to improve access to justice, equality and diversity in the courts. Our previous and upcoming webinars in the series are available here.

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