Joe was our only son. Last August he was arrested and kept overnight at Cheadle Heath Police station after a positive breath test. He was just seventeen and had made a bad decision to drive home after a party. Two days later Joe took his own life.
It was only then that we, his parents, found out he had been arrested -- because he was seventeen he was treated as an adult in custody. We were not called when he was arrested or given the opportunity to give him the support he needed.
The fact that a seventeen-year-old is treated as an adult whilst in custody is an anomaly of British law once they are charged they are then treated as children, this simply does not make sense.
Joe is not they only child to take his own life after contact with or arrest by the police, for someone of any age being held and charged in a police station is a traumatic experience and especially so for young people without the life experience of an adult.
Few seventeen-year-olds could make a rational judgement about contacting family or legal advice in that situation without support. Perhaps most importantly of all they are fearful of disappointing and letting down their families. This is perhaps why some young people don’t want their families to be contacted at the time of their arrest, thereby depriving them of the support they really need. It is this that makes them so vulnerable.
We believe if the law had been different Joe would still be alive.
With this in mind we are looking for your support to ask the Government to change the law to ensure seventeen-year-olds are treated as children upon arrest.
This will bring the UK into line with the United Nations Conventions on the rights of the child which state that every person under eighteen must be treated as a child if they are considered such in the eyes of the law of that country.
Please sign our petition calling on the Government to change the law.