The debate continues regarding the abolition of the Human Rights Act following the Conservative Party having pledged to abolish the Act and replace it with a new British Bill of Rights. Critics of the Human Rights Act say that interpretation of the Act has led to ‘perverse’ judgments whilst supporters say that without the Human Rights Act in force, there will be no accountability and protection for the vulnerable.
Campaigners say that a new law named ‘Kesia’s law’, which came into force this week, will save vulnerable lives. The law is named after teenager Kesia Leatherbarrow. In 2013, Kesia was found dead in Dukinfield, Tameside, shortly after being released from Police Custody where she had been held for three days and two nights. She had been arrested for criminal damage and possessing drugs. Her family were not told of a threat that she had made to take her own life whilst she was in police custody. At the time Kesia, as a 17 year old, was treated as an adult and not offered the support that a 16 year old detainee would have been provided with. ‘Kesia’s Law’ now means that 17 year olds in police detention will be treated just how 16 year old detainees are – if they are detained overnight they can now be transferred to Local Authority Accommodation. Without doubt, this affords 17 year olds vital protection when in police custody – in the hope that this will prevent the reoccurrence of such tragic events like that of Kesia.
The scale of the publicity in relation to Kesia’s Law spreads nationwide – The ‘Act for the Act’ Campaign is seeking to urge the Government not to abolish the Human Rights Act. Kesia’s parents are joining forces with the parents of Edward Thornber, a 17 year old who was arrested and subsequently hung himself. His parents weren’t informed of his arrest and a Court Summons was wrongly issued. Kesia’s parents also join the parents of Joe Lawton, another 17 year old, who’s parents were not informed of their son’s arrest for drink driving – he subsequently went on to shoot himself.
All three of these tragic cases give examples of the Human Rights Act in action – Kesia’s parents being deprived of their Right to Family Life under Article 8 and Edward Thornber’s parents having their Article 2 Right to Life taken away from them when they were not informed that he was in trouble and in need of their help.
The Government’s response to the campaign remains to be seen but Kesia’a Law certainly paves the way for protecting young and vulnerable detainees.
Here at Farleys we have a specialist team of lawyers who can advise and assist you on claims arising from breaches of the Human Rights Act and regularly successfully pursue claims against local authorities, the police and prison service.