Next week change the law to protect arrested 17 year olds #stillachildat17

This petition made change with 29,396 supporters!

Kesia was my only daughter. She is the third 17 year-old in three years to die after being arrested and denied the full range of support that is provided to children to keep them safe. This is because of a loophole in the law, which still allows the police to treat arrested 17 year olds as adults in certain respects when in custody, even though if taken to court they would be treated as children.

I believe it was this loophole which cost my daughter her life. It meant that, despite being in terrible distress after her arrest for breaking a window and having a small amount of cannabis, Kesia was locked up in a police cell for three days and two nights.

Kesia was beautiful and loving, but suffered from mental health issues including self-harm and depression. The arrest will have caused her terrible distress, but because she was treated as an adult in custody she had no legal right to be transferred to local authority care overnight. This is where specialist staff could have looked after her. She was released with no one to meet her, and soon after she was found dead.

Around a dozen 17 year olds are kept in police cells every single night of the year.

After three tragic deaths, everyone agrees that the law needs to be changed. Not just bereaved parents like me, and the families of Joe Lawton and Eddie Thornber (the two other 17 year olds who took their own lives, see below), but the police, legal experts and even the government itself.

In 2013, over 55,000 people signed a petition for arrested 17 year olds to be treated as children and a High Court judge ruled the law should be changed. However, the Home Office paid only lip service to the ruling, making significant but limited changes only - and leaving the loophole that meant Kesia couldn't be moved to a more suitable overnight accommodation.

On Monday (10 November) the Criminal Justice and Courts bill has its third reading in the Lords.  By, literally, changing one word in the existing legislation 17 year olds would receive all the same protections as younger children. If we miss this opportunity, the change will be delayed indefinitely.

Time is very short, so please sign our petition to urge the government to accept the amendment next week, and to do everything it can to prevent further avoidable deaths.

Today: Martina is counting on you

Martina Brincat Baines needs your help with “Theresa May: Next week change the law to protect arrested 17 year olds #stillachildat17”. Join Martina and 29,395 supporters today.