Representing looked after children at the police station – a guide for lawyers

Representing looked-after children at the police station: a step by step guide for lawyers, The Youth Justice Legal Centre and The Howard League for Penal Reform, September 2019

The  Youth Justice Legal Centre and The Howard League for Penal Reform have worked together to produce this guide which provides practical steps that lawyers can take to reduce the criminalisation of looked-after children and ensure they receive the support and assistance they need.


It is now widely recognised that looked-after children are disproportionately criminalised.  This is evidenced by the publication of the national protocol on reducing the unnecessary criminalisation of looked after children and care leavers in November 2018 and the recent statistics from the Howard League for Penal Reform which recognise that children in care are 10 times more likely to be criminalised than other children.

This guide brings together policy and practice to take lawyers through the factors that can contribute to the criminalisation of looked after children. It provides practical advice, including how to review the decision to arrest or hold a child in custody, how to communicate effectively with a child, how to advocate for a child’s basic rights and entitlements, how to support a child in interview, how to consider whether a child is a victim of exploitation, how to make representations to the police and the Crown Prosecution Service and how to make sure that a child’s community care needs are met.

Read the Just for Kids Law press release here.