Suicide boys' parents in law call
The parents of two 17-year-old boys who killed themselves after being arrested have called for a change in the law to prevent the "utter devastation" of more families.
Nick and Jane Lawton's son Joe committed suicide two days after he was arrested for drink driving last August.
Adrian and Ann Thornber's son Edward also took his own life after being summoned to court for possessing 50p worth of cannabis.
In both cases the parents were not informed of the arrests because their sons were treated as adults in custody.
They delivered a petition to Downing Street containing more than 52,000 signatures, urging the Government to address the "anomaly" that 17-year-olds are treated as adults when arrested but as children if they are charged.
Speaking in Downing Street, Mrs Lawton said she believed her son would still be alive today if he had been treated as a child in custody.
"It's been very clear to us since Joe's death that people just aren't aware of this anomaly in the law," she said. "We really do believe that if Joe had been treated as a child when he was in custody, if he had the chance to ring us....if he had our help and support, then he would still be alive today."
Both families say that if the law is changed it will bring the UK into line with the United Nations convention on the rights of the child. It states that every person under 18 must be treated as a child if they are considered as such in the eyes of the law of that country. A judicial review into the issue is ongoing.
Policing Minister Damian Green said: "The deaths of Joe Lawton and Edward Thornber were tragedies and our thoughts are with their families. The welfare of anyone remanded in custody is considered at every stage of the process.
"Existing laws ensure a proper level of care is provided with special provisions in place for young and vulnerable people. It would be inappropriate to comment further while legal proceedings are ongoing."