Maya Sikand secures High Court victory for child remanded in prison custody

Monday 16 May 2011

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Maya Sikand has secured a successful claim in R (A) v Lewisham Youth Court concerning a young person remanded in prison custody. The case was decided partly on the Divisional Court recognising the need to conform to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The decision will be important for children and young people awaiting trial.

This claim came about because of the change in the law as a result of section 115 of the Coroner's and Justice Act 2009 ("CAJA 2009") which took away magistrates' courts powers to grant bail to those charged with murder. This case concerned the remand in prison custody of a 15 year old boy by a Youth Court following his first appearance for an offence of murder whilst the question of bail was decided by the Crown Court. The Youth Court refused to apply section 23 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1969, which allows for different forms of detention for children and young people and regulates the way in which the court's power is to be exercised. The question was to what extent, if any, those provisions have been displaced in the case of a child or young person charged with murder. In granting permission to the claimant to apply for judicial review, the judge described the issue as one of general importance and of growing concern to Youth Courts. The DPP argued that s.23 did not now apply to a child or young person charged with murder. The Divisional Court ruled in the Claimant's favour, rejecting the DPP's arguments, and agreeing that there was a constitutional point here of some importance at stake, not least conformity with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, because if the DPP were right, then 10 and 11 year olds would have to be put in prison, as opposed to in local authority care or in secure accommodation.

To read the judgment in full, click here.

Maya Sikand is a member of the Garden Court Chambers Prison Law Team, and a contributor to the new Prison Law Blog.

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