Under the 1984 Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE), 17-year-olds are treated as adults and those that are denied bail are currently detained in a police cell overnight.
The new measure will revise the definition of “arrested juvenile” in Part IV of PACE and will mean that 17-year-olds denied bail will be moved to secure accommodation provided by the local authority — rather than a jail cell.
The proposal has been brought forward as an amendment by Lord Listowel to the Criminal Justice Courts Bill, which will gain Royal Assent in Spring 2015 and is expected to come into force later that year.
The new measure forms part of the Home Office commitment to amending all sections of PACE where 17-year-olds are treated as adults. This measure supplements changes that were introduced in October 2013 which stipulated that 17-year-olds must be provided with an “appropriate adult” and a person responsible for their welfare must be informed of their detention.
Policing minister Mike Penning (pictured) said: “I am committed to ensuring that young people are protected and treated appropriately while in police custody.”
He continued: "It is vital that appropriate safeguards are ultimately put in place for all under-18s who come into contact with the police.
"That is why, in addition to the overnight detention measure, the Home Office is seeking to amend all outstanding areas of PACE where 17-year-olds are treated as children as soon as possible.”