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17-year olds to be treated as children at police stations

The definition of arrested juvenile has been extended to include any person under the age of 18.1 Prior to the change, the definition of ‘arrested juvenile’ was anyone under the age of 17. This amendment to PACE is known as ‘Kesia’s Law’.


The extension of the definition of arrested juvenile to include 17 year olds addresses an anomaly that resulted in children aged over 16 being treated as adults at police stations. It brings the treatment of children at police stations into line with the rest of the criminal justice system. The amendment will affect all 17 year olds arrested on, or after 26 October 2015.2

This means that any 17 year old charged with an offence must no longer be kept overnight in a police station and extends the duty to transfer children charged with an offence to local authority accommodation to 17 year olds.3 This change will ensure 17 year olds receive the same protection as younger children at the police station.


This amendment to PACE is known as ‘Kesia’s Law’ and followed a successful campaign, ‘Still a child at 17’, led by Just for Kids Law. In 2013, PACE Code C was amended to reflect the entitlement of 17 year olds to an appropriate adult following the case of R (on the application of HC v the Secretary of State for the Home Department [2013] EWHC 982 (Admin).

  1. Section 42  Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 amends section 37(15) of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE 1984  (back)
  2. Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 (Commencement No. 3 and Transitional Provisions) Order 2015 (SI 2015/1778)   (back)
  3. Section 38(6) of the Police and Criminal Evidence (PACE) Act 1984  (back)