A legal challenge over the arrest and detention in a London police station of a 17-year-old boy could change the procedure for arresting young people, reports the BBC.
The case concerns a teenager who was arrested and detained overnight in a police station on suspicion of robbery. The teenager had no previous convictions, and was released without charge in the morning.
The boy was not allowed to phone home to tell his parents where he was.
Under the current rules 17-year-olds are treated as children in most criminal justice respects, apart from arrest, detention and interviewing, when they are treated as adults.
Lawyers regard this provision as a mistake and believe that 17-year-olds should be treated as children in the arrest and detention process as well, which would mean that an appropriate adult, such as a parent, guardian or social worker would be allowed to accompany them to any police interview after arrest.
The legal challenge in the High Court today is being brought by the charity Just for Kids Law.
"Seventeen-year-olds are routinely treated as adults when dealing with the police, with detrimental consequences for the children," said Shauneen Lambe, the director of the charity.
They believe that the law in England and Wales is in direct conflict with international obligations to treat all those under the age of 18 as children.
The Home Office has defended the provision, saying that the law provides appropriate safeguards for children of all ages that are engaged in the criminal justice system.