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Implications of the Human Rights Act for Young Suspects and Remand Prisoners in England and Wales

NCJ Number
Journal of the Institute of Justice and International Studies Issue: 1 Dated: 2002 Pages: 45-68
Fiona Brookman; Harriet Pierpoint
Date Published
24 pages
This paper considers some of the situations in which the British Human Rights Act 1998 could be used by young suspects who are held in police custody as well as pretrial remand prisoners.
The Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA) became fully operational in England and Wales on October 2, 2000. It incorporates into British law the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which was drafted in 1949 to protect the individual from abuse by the power of the state and to ensure that the atrocities committed during World War II should not occur again. It has taken 50 years for the United Kingdom to include the full mandates of the ECHR in British law. In considering how the HRA might apply to young suspects detained in police custody and defendants remanded into custody pending trial, it should be noted that under British law both of these groups are "innocent," having not been found guilty of a crime in a court of law. In examining rights issues under the HRA for these two groups, this paper focuses on Articles 5 and 6 as they pertain to the issues of delays in criminal justice processing and access to legal advice. Delays in criminal justice processing necessary to resolve the legal status of individuals in the two groups means that "innocent" persons are being subjected to punitive conditions; and lack of accessibility to legal advice means that these persons in custody have no practical means of understanding and exerting their rights under the HRA. At issue is whether police custody is being used appropriately for the investigation of crime or whether it is being used as a means of social control and the infliction of punishment. 91 references