Chapter 7 Protecting vulnerable child defendants in England and Wales: a house of cards?
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This chapter focuses on children with neurodisabilities who are defendants in the criminal courts in England and Wales. Drawing on two real-life case studies, it examines how, and how well, children's right to a fair trial (and specifically to participate effectively) is protected in England and Wales. It argues that despite the high numbers of children with a neurodisability in the criminal justice system, and despite some improvements to their rights protection in the aftermath of the decision of the European Court of Human Rights in V v United Kingdom in 1999, over the last few years there has been a regression in rights protection, in law and in practice. In particular, the protections associated specifically with age have been diminished, and the double disadvantage faced by vulnerable child defendants - vulnerabilities stemming from both age and disability - thus go under-recognised and under-supported.

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