Meet Shauneen Lambe, the Executive Director of ‘Just For Kids Law’ a charity set up to help kids on the brink of being involved in the justice system, and needing both help and justice.
The charity she runs is dependant to a significant degree on government funding.
At the moment they are engaged in challenging those elements of the youth justice system which they believe are not ‘fit for purpose’ and often breach the UN Convention on the rights of the child.
One of those elements is the introduction of secure docks in all youth courts across England and Wales. Secure docks which prevent children from sitting with their lawyers and thus from being able to participate effectively in legal proceedings.
Proceedings which even the European Court of Human Rights has acknowledged a child should be able to fully comprehend since the outcome of those proceedings will have life altering consequences.
The charity recently worked with a child who had been charged with robbery. As a result of legal aid provision they were able to represent the child and the charges against him were dropped.
After seeking further funding they were also able to get him statemented as suffering from Asperger’s Syndrome and then find a place for him in a school on a reduced time-table. However, as a result of the reductions in the legal aid budget the work being done by charities like ‘Just for Kids Law’ will be significantlycurtailed.
In the words of Ms Lambe ‘Just for Kids Law’ ensures that kids don’t wind up ruining their lives with a custodial sentence and thus place a needless financial burden on the tax payer. In other words they provide value for money, that’s something Mr Grayling would approve of surely?