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.
My 14 yr son has just been charged with racial.The man accused him of robbery and possesing a knife which turned out to be a complete lie as cctv was shown to the police..The man kept arguing with my son and saying 'come here and say that" and "do you fancy"?me to which my son replied no you are fat and ugly..Other bits were said and then my son called him a paki..The guy called police abd said my feelings are hurt as im Indian and my son was thrown to the floor and arrested..He has been charged with the racial bit..Im devastated he is devastated...I really dont think having spoken to him that he realised it was wrong to call him that..I even bought him an iphone 6 earlier and one of the ring tones was called paki man...he hears it all the time...Wot will happen to him?He should be punished but court etc is a bit harsh for first time offence especially as we know of this man and he is NOT offended by the word paki and ive heard him call others it.
Beau - 21-Jul-15 @ 7:13 AM
My 15 year old daughter was cought shoplifting with a friend of hers and the police after getting there details let them go without arrest. If it wasn't for my child telling me I wouldn't have known as the police didn't call me till 7 months later and is now 16 years old. They now want us to go to the station to sign a caution statement that somehow puts it all on me if she does it again to keep it off her record.. I'm told by police this is a new thing. Is this right after so long? Please help.
Tee - 13-Jul-15 @ 10:14 AM
My 14 year son was involved in a street robbery, he is on bail. He was with a group of 10 lads and 3 of them robbed 2 people.
my son stayed back out of the way and said nothing to the victims, he felt really bad and wanted to do something, but if he did they would beat him up, he was scared.
he lied to the police as he was scared.
the next day I got the truth and we rang the police back and told them the kids name who held a knife to young lad.
What will happen to my son now. I am really worried this has wrecked his whole life.
he is a good lad. Was just mixing with the wrong crowd.
I am moving out of the area I live in, ad my house as been targeted before.
Smand - 8-Jul-15 @ 11:35 PM
@bel. She has a right to have a solicitor present, insist on this if you feel strongly about it.
CivilRightsMovement - 1-Jul-15 @ 10:14 AM
My 12 year old daughter has to attend a caution plus 3 voluntary interview at her local police station. My daughter was wound up in the park by another girl and ended up slapping her. When the police came to arrange the interview they seemed to be deterring me from having legal representation and stating that I can only have a solicitor present at certain stations further than my local one. Is this true? Why can my child not be questioned in the presence of her solicitor at any station for a voluntary statement? I am so concerned about the repercussions of my child's actions I know she has done wrong by hitting out but it was provoked, could she be arrested as a result of this interview and be charged? Please advise. Thank you
bel - 27-Jun-15 @ 12:08 PM
@Ham. Ring the police (Non emergency number 101) and tell them?
CivilRightsMovement - 19-Jun-15 @ 2:42 PM
My 8 yr old daughter was whipped across the face with a belt and it scratched her face by a 9 yr old thats been bullying her for over 2 yr with the girls mother watching and all the police have done is tell her mum to keep her daughter away from mine. As soon as the police left the girl and her dad kept walking past our house.ihouse.i dont know what else to do my daughter is really scared and feeling ill because of it
Ham - 16-Jun-15 @ 12:51 PM
@Angry and Upset. You would have to ask a solicitor of course.
CivilRightsMovement - 16-Jun-15 @ 10:22 AM
@concerned dad. Has he said he was assaulted? Why haven't you asked the school about this? Do they undertake random searches for drugs etc at your son's school?
CivilRightsMovement - 12-Jun-15 @ 1:58 PM
How long can you get arrested for stealing a purse/wallet with a drivers licence and debit card ad soe concert tickets init ??
does anyone know?
jord - 11-Jun-15 @ 9:41 PM
my son is 13 and in Year 8. He was involved in an unprovoked attack outside school by a year 10 pupil (aged 15 or 16) my son in front of witnesses was pushed to the ground and kicked repeatedly in the head and suffered severe swelling and bruising. An ambulance was called and so were the police. We want this 'in humane' person prosecuted. Is this possible??
Angry and Upset Mum - 11-Jun-15 @ 2:03 AM
My Son walked to school, as he and the other children approached the school they were directed by teaching staff to a specific entrance gate; all other entrances to the school had been cordoned off. Without being told why or given any opportunity to refuse, he was funneled through the gate with all the other children.
Inside the gate a Police dog was sniffing all the children, the dog indicated My Son by licking his left hand. My Son was not told why the dog was sniffing him or given any opportunity to not be sniffed by the dog.
A Police Officer escorted My Son to a classroom in the Design Technology Block. My Son was not asked if he wished to go with the Officer and the Officer did not explain to My Son why he was being taken to the classroom.
In the classroom the escorting Police Officer handed My Son over to the care of another Police Officer and a male member of staff. The staff member was with a child known to My Son, the child left shortly after My Son arrived. Neither the Police Officer or the staff member identified themselves to My Son or greeted him in any way or explained why he was there.
My Son was told by the Police Officer to state his full name and his tutor group. The Police Officer wrote this information down.
My Son was then told by the Police Officer to open his bag, which he did and the bag was then searched by the Police Officer. My Son was then told to empty his pockets and identify the contents to the Police Officer, which he did. He was not told the purpose of the search or cautioned. He was not asked for his permission to be searched. My Son was not supplied with any paperwork or written information regarding the search. The teacher on duty in the room remained silent.
The Police Officer then told My Son to hold out his right hand, which was then swabbedwith square piece of material simular to medical gauze. This material was placed in a machine, which My Son has said was approximately 1m long by 0.5m high. The purpose of this machine was not explained to My Son. My Son was not told why the sample had been taken or the purpose to which that sample would be used. My Son was not told that he could refuse to provide a sample. My Son was not asked for his consent to be swabbed or for that swab to be tested. My Son was not told the result of this test or any implications of the results of the test.
My Son was then told by the Police Officer to go to his tutor room. Throughout the entire time in the classroom, whilst being searched and tested, the teacher remained silent.
I think my son may have been assaulted ?
concerned dad - 9-Jun-15 @ 1:23 PM
@tinajh. There are no specific laws relating to stop and search of children, although many organisations are campaigning for it.. The United National Convention on the Rights of the Child requires that "all decisions taken within the context of the administration of juvenile justice, the best interests of the child should be a primary consideration."
The ACPO (Association of Chief Police Officers) gives this advice; "Stopping and searching young or vulnerable persons can be particularly intimidating for them. Officers must clearly communicate the grounds for the search using simple and easy to understand language, and check that the person has understood the grounds before continuing with the search".
CivilRightsMovement - 22-Apr-15 @ 11:44 AM
My son who is 12 was stopped and searched at the park as he matched a description given by a witness he was searched without my permission and I wasn't informed is this the law he weren't involved in the situation but was searched anyway by a female and not a male should I have been informed or present
Tinajh - 19-Apr-15 @ 8:39 PM
@Don't have one. Not always, you're best asking the police themselves about their next course of action.
CivilRightsMovement - 9-Apr-15 @ 12:19 PM
I was arrested for trespassingand I am 14 years old should I be expecting to go to court ?
Don't have one - 8-Apr-15 @ 2:16 AM
@carla. It sounds as though you are in the USA, this is a UK site so we can only really comment on UK law issues.
CivilRightsMovement - 16-Mar-15 @ 10:42 AM
my 17 yr old son has been asked to attend a police interview,they made it for 10am and I asked him to see if it could be changed so I could attend or they were going to get a social worker.I work from 7am until 6pm and am the sole breadwinner but I wanted to be there.When he rang the woman pc involved said she wasn't in then and ,without asking booked it for today at 10am.I told him to ring back as he was going to see his brother in somerset who is on a course in the army(relevant in a moment)and my mum was picking him up at 7am and they wouldn't be back until sunday.My partner also rang them to explain that he wasn't avoiding them but just wanted a time to be arranged that my son and I could attend together.She made it clear if he didn't attend the new appointment a warrant for his arrest would be put on him.I was gobsmacked,but I let him go.I have 3 sons,my first is a corporal in the army,i am due to attend my second sons passing out parade next month and my 17 yr old has his army interview on Monday,therefore seeing his brother after 2 years(he is based in Germany)would help him.The woman pc came to the house at 12.30pm today looking for him and asked if he had gone to somerset,my partner said he had.She then said that we were talking to the wrong person about the army and she would do everything she could to stop him going in and said that she would go to the army careers appointment on Monday and arrest him there.Matt hasn't been an angel and has been spoken to a few times before for stupid things but he made his own mind up to change and follow his brothers into a career....can she do what she says? as I have NEVER had an officer so adamant on being awkward and so against the army.I am very very proud of my sons,one of which served in Afghanistan and lost good friends any help would be very gratefully received.many thanks .
shorty - 13-Mar-15 @ 9:54 PM
@Clare. State your case. If the bullying episodes have been recorded by the school, this will support your daughter's case. Bullying.co.uk has a support line that you may want to call for help.
CivilRightsMovement - 12-Mar-15 @ 2:41 PM
My 15 yr old daughter initiated a fight at school. She was arrested and assault charges were pressed. She was taken to the police department, there she was finger printed and photographed. Her Miranda rights were not ever read to her nor was she informed that I could be there. When I talked to the school they said she was being arrested. I asked if they could do that without me present and was told yes, I did not need to be there. She was then taken to a youth detention center, strip searched, and told she had to give a urine sample. She refused and they told her she would remain in custody until she gave the sample. She finally gave the sample the next day and was released to me. Is what they did legal? I talked to the probation officer and told her that they had no legal right to force her to give the sample and she admitted that was true. They want to give voluntary probation with community service and random ua's. Our other potion is to take this to court. What would our chances be of having the entire thing dropped becaus they did not follow the law and lied about the urine test? Thank you for any advice.
Carla - 11-Mar-15 @ 7:56 PM
My daughter's been bullied for 6 month by more than 6 girls, she's been over the park and 3 of them have been there, they've surrounded my daughter and one of them have hit her, she has fought back and ended up getting the better of her! Now the bully has gone to police what will happen and do I need a solictor? I've got records to show how long it's been going on for at the school the girl wasn't marked but now because she knows she won't stand for it there getting made out to be the victoms
clare - 10-Mar-15 @ 10:36 AM
@tel. A child under 17 has right is to be accompanied by an adult and also to confer with that adult in private. The police should not have started interviewing your son if he had asked for an adult to be present. Note that there are however, some circumstances in which the interview can go ahead with requested adult not present; if time is of the essence and adelay could result in further crime being committed the police can interview with an 'appropriate' adult present. You can complain to the Independent Police Complaints Commissionif you feel that they have acted incorrectly.
CivilRightsMovement - 25-Feb-15 @ 12:09 PM
my 14 year old son arrested this morning at his mothers home address. accused of making racist comment to a 13 year old boy. plus so im told common assault.he been in custody since 8.30 this morning . yet i as his father and police no i do not live with kids have not had call to say they got him in custody, Q. have phoned switchboard. officer says police do not have to contact me and that they can place adult with him for interview. i have saidi do not wish him interviewed until i can be there as adult for interview etc. police say they can place adult for interview without contacting me. son has adhd and wont understand lots that is going on. police should take this into consideration ? some advice would be greatfully recieved.
tel - 23-Feb-15 @ 1:21 PM
My child was playing in her residents but with other children from anither resident and apparently the other children were making too much noise causing the management to call upon a off duty officer also living in the resident and the officer went and threw all of them out the area in which they were in (pool area),but before holding my child that is 12years old and yelling in her face threateninh to arrest her for traspassing and telling her that she has fove minutes to get out of the area but if he see her again playing with kids and someone complains that they are too loud he not going to only arrest her but also place a traspassing record on which won't allow her to ever play or enter any area within her resodent complex.my question is does he has this right and was he within the law to do what he did and get in her face like that. She wasn't warn then approach about the noise just approach and yelled at to the point that she cried and kept telling him ok but stop yelling in my face please.
kay - 17-Feb-15 @ 12:05 PM
@Key. No the school can involve the police if they see fit to do so. They will look at both boys' versions of events and may take statements from any other pupils and staff that witnessed it.
CivilRightsMovement - 13-Feb-15 @ 2:47 PM
My 13 year old son, has been asked to come to the police station regarding an allegation made by another pupil.The boy said my son held him down, while another boy broke his finger and took money off of him.My son tells a different story, but agrees he was there at the time but didn't break his finger,what are his rights?Can one boys eveidence against another boy be believed? As it was at school time, surely it's the schools responbility not the police? Please advise.
Key - 13-Feb-15 @ 2:23 PM
@Saz. Maybe they are trying to rule him out of another crime?
CivilRightsMovement - 9-Jan-15 @ 10:30 AM
My son was arrested and got a youth caution. They didn't take his finger prints or dna
It's now 18months later and they have phoned me asking for them...he was 14 at time
They said it not compulsory but will lead to an arrest if not! Surely they should of done it then
saz - 7-Jan-15 @ 4:08 PM
@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.