There are a number of rights that apply specifically to children under the age of 17 who are arrested. Parents should be aware of these rights that begin as soon as the child is arrested.
Child Arrest in the UK
Just over 200,000 children are arrested in the UK each year, according to Home Office statistics. The average age of the children arrested is between 10 and 17 years old. Children at this age will usually not be aware of their rights when arrested. It is important that parents, guardians and anyone who is responsible for children know the rights children have when arrested. These rights begin when the child is arrested and continue to the court proceedings stage.
Informing a Parent When a Child Is Arrested
If a child is arrested for committing a criminal offence and they are under 17, the police must inform the parents as soon as possible. Children who are arrested should be made aware of their rights when they are first brought to the police station. One of these rights will be that a parent or guardian can be informed of the arrest straight away. Children under the age of 17 also have the right to have an adult present at the police station. Children should also be allowed to talk to this adult in private if they wish to do so.
Children’s Rights and Police Interviews
The police should not begin interviews if the child has requested that an adult such as a parent is present. If no adult is present the police may interview the child under certain circumstances. It may be the case that delaying an interview would mean that further crime could be committed such as harm to another person. If this is the case then the police may well interview the child in the presence of an appropriate adult. Steps should be taken first to contact the child’s parent before the interview takes place.
Detention Time Limits at a Police Station
If the police believe a child has committed an offence they can hold the child for 24 hours. But this is not the maximum time period a child can be held for. A further 12 hours can be added to the 24 hour period if the crime committed is of a serious nature. The police can actually ask the court for an extended period of detention. But this extended period cannot be longer than 96 hours before the child is charged with an offence.
Searches at the Police Station
The police do have the right to search a child under the age of 18 at the police station. If all clothing is to be removed during the search an adult of the same sex must carry out this search. Intimate searches can only be held in private where no one else can see the search. The child does have the right to have an adult such as a parent present during the search. This search can be conducted at any time whilst the child is held at the police station.
Obtaining Fingerprints from Children
The police can take fingerprints and photographs if the child is over 16. If the child is under 14 the police will need permission from the parent to proceed with fingerprinting. Children aged 15 and 16 will need to agree along with the parent’s agreement for fingerprinting to take place. Children over the age of 16 will be required to submit to fingerprints and photographs even if they have not agreed.
Intimate Samples Taken By the Police
If the police are intending to take hair and saliva samples then they must have the agreement of the child and parent if no charges have been made. If charges have been made then these samples can be taken without agreement from the child or parent. Blood and urine samples cannot be taken unless both the parent and the child have agreed to this. Even if the child has been charged they cannot be forced to give these intimate samples.
Children Under 17 Years and Court Proceedings
If a child is 10 years old then they cannot be charged with an offence and taken to court. Children over 10 years old but under 17 years will be treated as a young offender and criminal cases will be dealt with by the youth courts. If the child has committed an offence and an adult was also involved then the court proceedings can be held in either the magistrate’s or the Crown courts.
The expertise of a legal advisor should always be sought if a child has been arrested. The Children’s Law Centre will be able to provide free help and advice to parents of children who have been arrested or charged with a criminal offence. Learn about stop, search and arrest rights, here.
@margaret. Yes this does sound very harsh, the police are usually more careful in the way they treat youngsters. Not sure whether there are any regulations about the way they are transported to the station, but we will look into it.
CivilRightsMovement - 19-Dec-14 @ 11:18 AM
I watched a boy being put in a police van with a cage. The boy was handcuffed with his hands behind his back. He was obviously pre pubescent , under five feet two inches and built like a whippet . The male officer was built like a scrum half and the police woman was taller than the boy. I am outraged that a boy was treated in that way, at the very least they could have handcuffed him with his hands in front and used a car. It's absolutely outrageous that it is deemed acceptable to treat children in such a heartless way.
Margaret - 18-Dec-14 @ 5:44 PM
@Dave, yes there's often only on parent/guardian allowed.
CivilRightsMovement - 16-Dec-14 @ 10:08 AM
Both of us parents turned up to see our boy who was arrested and kept in cells over night. But only one parent was allowed to access the boy. Is this ok? As we wanted to see him together and chat to him together before the interview.
dave - 13-Dec-14 @ 9:22 AM
My daughter was arrested yesterday for having a physical fight with her mother at her mothers address. I was notified by the custody officer after my daughter requested this.
I attended the police station and the problems started from here.
I was treated like I was a criminal from the moment I spoke with the custody officer.
Unknown to me at the time he was recording everything that was being said without my permission.
He explained what forms my daughter had signed and that she had requested me to come to the police station.
I spoke with my daughter, and even though the fight was between her mum and her, I advised her to seek legal advice.
We went back to the custody officer and I stated my daughter would like to speak with a duty solicitor.
He said he would organize this and would I sign some forms.
I read the forms and signed were I thought needed signing at this time.
In respect to fingerprints and photographs I did not sign and he then became difficult with trying to convince me to sign. I stated this would be discussed when the solicitor arrived. Is exact words then was "we can take them by force if need be" I had already read some material about rights of 15 year olds in custody and I knew they need my daughters permission as well as mine as the parent.
I explained the permissions needed to the officer but he said "we will take them by force if necessary"
I then said you cannot do this. He then asked me to wait in reception for the solicitor to arrive.
On the way back to reception a PC who was listening to the conversation between the custody officer and myself said "we can take them by force if needed you know" I said "what are you talking about" and he said "the fingerprints and the photographs". Once again I explained that my daughter was 15 and this was not allowed and that we wanted to discuss it with a solicitor first.
I then sat in reception.
2 and half hours later I was asked by a PC on reception that if I wanted to go out for a coffee etc then I could. I asked what was happening with the solicitor and they said they would check.
In the meantime I started to read the paperwork that I had be given regarding my daughters rights.
It stated on the paperwork that my daughter should have had me present before her rights were read to her or even before she had signed any forms.
The message came back from the custody sergeant that it will happen when it happens. With what I had read i stated I was not happy and I would now like to make a formal complaint about the P.... officer that is being obstructive in helping my daughter. The reception said they will log the complaint and give me a log number....as I was giving my reasons for the complaint the custody sergeant appeared and said "I believe you want a word with me, I think we should have this conversation behind a close door" he was trying to intimidate me. I said "what close door would you like to go behind" and he then said we will have it in the corridor. He
Mick - 10-Dec-14 @ 1:06 PM
Arrested at 15 and being stripped of your clothing is wrong. police are not allowedt
o do that and it should have been done by women police officers. you should have been given a paper suit to wear aswell.
pixie - 25-Nov-14 @ 5:59 PM
My 16 year old son has been arrested and the police will not allow me to see him. They did not inform me of his arrest and I have PR
paintdiva - 29-Oct-14 @ 1:44 PM
@Leah. You would normally be given 'safe' custody clothing to wear if the duty officers consider you were in danger of self harming. It is feasible that you would be left to recover (from intoxication) for that period of time too. It's common practice to be asked if you would like an adult contacted to know of your whereabouts but they would not be allowed to visit you whilst in custody.
CivilRightsMovement - 4-Sep-14 @ 12:04 PM
I was 15 and was arrested for calling a police man a pig whilst intoxicated, when I got to the police station they took all my clothes off me and left me for 12 hours sat in a cell naked with just my nickers and a blanket, I did refuse to take off my clothes as I am very self conscious but was still made to do so as they told me I had a history of self harm and therefore I had to do it, I was just wondering whether this is legal as it was against my will and I was only 15
Leah - 3-Sep-14 @ 10:48 PM
my son who is 25 year old charged assaulted police officer but he only pushed his chest to leave him alone in the our home and after that police officer attacked my son as he several times punched to my son's head and my son get injury his left eye "Black Eye" thought police officer addmited that hedone the injury but claimed he did after my son bite him and i saw litle scrach on his right hand between his thumb and index finger which he may probably got when he was punching my son, also the police officer has my sons top tracksuit as evidence which has litle spot blood and don't know either is my blood from his teeth or from litle scracht of the officer. therefore the court will be early of august this year and what my son's case result be and any other advise. Many Thanks
ilkocase - 12-Jul-14 @ 12:30 PM
This girl was picking on My daughter constantly making lies up about her
Kicking her all the time,One day my Daughter screamed at her"Leave me Alone"
At this point the bully..Hit my Daughter putting her to the floormy daughter Head butted her the bully bit her Boob and Twisted her hand my daughter was on my floor crying
But now,The Bully Has Suddenly Got a black eye
Bite marks on her face And A broken nose but when she walke away people said he was perfectly fine now my daughter has an interview with the police
Will my daughter get Arrested for this?oh i forgot to add my daughter did punch her various times but not on the face my daughter also Pushed her off causing the bully to hit her head on a glass bottle which smashed.
Emily_mae2340 - 7-Jul-14 @ 12:28 AM
My dauger threated to hit a child at school same age at her what can happen to a 12 yearold as school eang up and said had a issue what is the worst can happen?
rach - 21-May-14 @ 9:15 PM
Do police have the right to tell our mom to slap
Yovani - 21-Mar-14 @ 8:46 AM
My daughter 14 years old taken to a police for questioning about a stolen phone she had on her? What happens next, likely outcome?
rainman - 27-Feb-14 @ 6:44 PM
What is the Youth Criminal Justice Act and does it apply to Georgia???
culdawg - 12-Jan-14 @ 5:34 PM
My son was arrested for basically being out past curfew at a party over the Holidays - the charges were misdemeanor and he is 17. He plays BB at the HS he attends and has been one of the area leading scorer's avg 25 points a game for the past few years. Our local newspaper did not print his name in the arrest blotter and he was not listed in the local "busted paper", but the other kids that were arrested are listed but were 18 or older; I was told my son would not be because he was 17. Nothing was printed about my sons arrestin the blotter (arrest) section along with the other kids or arrest at that time but you can pull it up online! And, the (same) local newspaper printed my sons arrest in an article
of the sports section and mentions the suspension, arrests etc.My son has recruitors interested from Colleges watching and following his season; and I know the boys made bad choices and they are paying for them! Is my son at 17, protected by any law in our State of GA regarding what is printed in a local news paper????
culdawg - 12-Jan-14 @ 5:16 PM
My daughter threatened a boy asking him for 8000 pounds or he will be killed also took his credit cards of the boy and mobile also watch bus pass and now is on bail since a month now got too go to police station to see whats charges are made what can be the possible charges as she sat in cell 18 hours will it be serious crime?
Padilla - 30-Dec-13 @ 4:00 PM
My daughterhas threateneda boy asking for 8000 pounds or he will be kled is on bail what charges will she get
Padilla - 30-Dec-13 @ 3:55 PM
My son has been accused by our neighbour of stealing a mobile phone battery and sd card from the phone. I am not convinced and would like to take him to the police station , along with the phone and get his fingerprints taken and the fingerprints off the phone. Is this possible? Obviously I would have to take the neighbour as well
spursgirl - 12-Sep-13 @ 6:26 PM
My grandson Who has global developmental delays and is 9 years old was out playing with his sister and another child. A young girl was being abusive toward them and being down right nasty. He retaliated and seemingly spat at her, then the girls family came and took photo`s of the children and reported them to the police for making racial comment`s. The police took the photos to look for the 3 alleged culprit`s, But it came to light three days after the event after yet another altercation with the same girl and one girl from the previous event. I called the police as the same little girl who made the allegations tried to set her Staffy dog on two girls. AGAIN a racial allegation was made BUT THIS TIME the police man was actually there and sitting in the house when this whole thing was meant to be happening. The police (as far as i am aware let this go even the fact that one member of the family was shouting swearing and being abusive and threatened myself and my belongings. Can the police actually charge my grandson and his sister ( for being there) They have family of ethnic origin and all there friends too. They have never been in trouble EVER and are two good kids. This family blatantly used the racial discrimination act and it was proved immediatelyby the police at locus this event did not happen. WHAT RIGHTS DOES MY 2 GRANDCHILDREN HAVE IN SCOTLAND. ?
Tinabones - 16-Aug-13 @ 12:20 PM
My 13 year old bother was arrested while hanging out with some kid from the same street. My mom was never notified, she found out on her own when she went to look for him and was told that he had been arrrested like 20 minutes earlier. my mom had to go to the juvenile detention center and the police officer wouldn't give her any information. later on they told her that she wouldn't be able to take my brother home till maybe the next day. the next morning they told her that it might take about 3 business days and he would have to stay there. my mom was not able to speak to my brother and no one knows what is going on. they said that he was going to be charged with a misdemeanor for vandalism however my mom was told that when they arrested him he didnt have anything on him excpt for the clothes on his back. I dont know what to do. he is my little brother but i live about 10 hours away and can't really go out to see him. does anyone know what can be done?
Big_Sister - 18-Jul-13 @ 7:29 PM
My 15 year old son ran away from home. While out on the streets he got caught shoplifting together with a 13 year old little friend. The police did NOT contact me nor the other parents, my sons name was not run through his on board system, as he would have seen that the boy was reported missing/runaway. Both kids were given a citation and have to appear in front of a judge. Though I want them to be punished for their actions, I feel our rights as the parents of a minor have been violated and they cannot be charged with anything as the officer was careless and neglective. I would love to hear what my rights are and what I can do about this.
Jenn - 9-Jul-13 @ 8:23 PM
I am 17 weeks pregnant with twins and I was assaulted by a police officer based in wembley police station due to my injuries I was taken to hospital on Sunday shortly after I was then admitted on Monday morning so I would like an independent lawyer to take on my case as I want the best attorney as I will be going national with my case and won't stop till the officer is dealt with accordingly. My contact number is 07588764146
Mandy - 12-Mar-13 @ 5:31 PM
grandson arrested at home, 14yrs. old searched and belt removed by female officer.took to jail finger printed without mom or dads ok. questioned without parent or lawyer.requested to call his mom but refused
cliff - 24-Feb-13 @ 6:40 AM
hi my son is 16 and he vandalised a blind he had his fingerprints taken a DNA swab and a picture for a line up and charged with out a adultthere
I live in Scotlandcan you please advise
bkkaz511 - 3-Jan-13 @ 2:32 AM
My 17 year old son was arrested. I couldn't go with him to the police station and they will not give any information to me or my wife as to what is happening. Can someone pls tell me why this is. He has been in the police station hours and not even called us with his so called one phone call.
Geoff - 24-Dec-12 @ 3:37 AM
my 16 year old lad was arrested at the house without an adult being present and taken in a police van to the police station.an accusation had been made that he had sexually assaulted a 14 year old girl who had picked him out at school.he had his fingerprints taken a DNA swab and a picture for a line up.
the line up was done and he was not picked out, evidence and statements were submitted to substansiate his innoncence and the duty solicitor informed us no charges were to be made.
1. are the police able to take my son from home without an appropriate adult.
2. what happens to the DNA and fingerprints taken.
3. are we entitled to pursue wrongful arrest.
4. can we prosecute or pursue a case for deformation of character
stubbsy - 21-Oct-12 @ 4:16 PM
My daughter who's 15 was arrested last night when another girl attacked her and because the other girl came out worse off my daughter is now being charged with ABH.
They arrested her even though they were told the other girl started it and my daughter was defending herself, they took her to the police station no caution given, locked in a cell for 3 hours by herself, when pushing the call button was ignored for 30 mins even though she told them she is asthmatic. finger prints were taken without my consent.
Even in interview she admitted defending herself ONLY by pulling the girls hair, which the other girl admitted my daughter only pulled hair it was 2 other kids that hit her trying to stop the fight. My daughter is now on 6 weeks bail and being referred to the Youth Offending Team.I dont think it's right that because she has defended herself after this girl verbally and physically attacked her she is the one who is in trouble....
sammi - 2-Aug-12 @ 2:40 PM
My son was arrested, he is just 17.It was all a misunderstanding between him and myself, and he called the police, of course they had nothing on me so they took him and did not let me know, when I asked where he was they said he was arrested forl domestic violence, and I was not allowed to see him or go to the police station with him, I am so upset because I would like to know how this will affect my son if he has to travel overseas, and was it right that they should arrest him and question him without me or an adult being there? because as I say he is still only seventeen and still going to college, could someone give me some information.
Mel - 30-May-12 @ 7:44 PM
hi my son is 10 he is in a pupil referal unittoday he broke a window and police were called while police were there he smashed up the office in the building the police man then told him he was nickedbefore police turned up i was informed bye the school the police were being called an hour later i phoned the school back to find out what was happeneni spoke to a police officer on the phone who was still in school grounds i was told my son had been arrested for causen havic and criminal damagei asked the officer what i was to do he told me on the phone that my son would b taken to the police station and i was to wait until i got a phone call for when they were ready to interview him i didnt think this sounded correct so i sorted some one for my other kids and was ready to get a bus there then i got another phone call asken me to be there asap so i got a taxi i was taken threw a corrodoor bye a police officer to be met bye my son and another police officer i was then told he wasnt getting arrested as thecustody officer said he was not to be arrested i dont understand what was going on i was then made to wait about an hour with my son at main desk eventually my son and i was taken threw to get interviewed bye tape when in room i was told it was a voluntary interview and he wasnt under arrest interview was done then i was told it would take up to a week to get a descision on what would happen please explain what this means