Children, Neurodiversity and the Criminal Legal System

A disproportionate number of the children in the criminal legal system are neurodiverse.

In this discussion, we will consider

  • What is the relevance of a diagnosis of an Autism Spectrum Disorder in children’s criminal proceedings?
  • What does the relevant caselaw say and what do practitioners need to know about how they can better support and represent these children?


Hear from Leading experts:

David Emanuel KC, Garden Court Chambers

David is a criminal defence barrister. He often appears in high profile cases and is instructed in all types of serious crime. He is a specialist in advising on criminal appeals and is a regular in the Court of Appeal. He has a particular interest in the way the courts deal with young people with neurodiversity. He appeared in R v Sossongo, in which a 15-year old’s conviction for murder was quashed after post-conviction diagnoses of Autistic Spectrum Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder were admitted as fresh evidence.

Aika Stephenson, Director, YJLC

Aika founded Just for Kids Law alongside Shauneen Lambe in 2006 and remains the Legal Director. She is a solicitor and youth justice expert with 20 years experience representing young people in criminal proceedings and particularly those with Special Educational Needs. Aika started her career working for the Children’s Society at Feltham Young Offenders Institute as an Advocate before going on to Westminster Youth Offending Team.

Aika represents young people at every stage of the criminal justice system, from the police station to the Supreme Court. She is driven by a determination to bring about systemic change that benefits all children and young people caught up in the criminal justice system.

William Mandy, Professor of Neurodevelopmental Conditions, University College London

Will’s research focuses on improving the recognition of autism, especially amongst people who are at particularly high risk of flying under the diagnostic radar. This has included work on improving recognition of autistic girls and women and understanding the phenomenon of autistic camouflaging. Another area of research focus is in understanding better the difficulties faced by autistic people under current systems of care and social structures.

Chaired by Shauneen Lambe, YJLC Director

Shauneen Lambe is a barrister in England and Wales and an attorney in the USA. She is former joint chief executive officer of Just for Kids Law (2005-2018) and co-founder of Impact - Law for Social Justice, a consultancy that supports those considering using the law for social change. Prior to working in the UK, Shauneen worked at the Louisiana Crisis Assistance Center representing those facing the death penalty and helped Clive Stafford Smith set up his NGO - Reprieve. For her work, Shauneen has been awarded an Eisenhower Fellowship, and Ashoka Fellowship, a Shackleton Fellowship, and a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader.

Free for YJLC Members|£15 for non-members.

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United Kingdom
Youth Justice Legal Centre