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Rights If Your Child is Arrested

By: Garry Crystal - Updated: 14 Jul 2019 | comments*Discuss
 
Child Arrested Rights Police Criminal

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.

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I am 11 years old and I have been charged with something I didnt do what should I do I'm scared
Ford - 14-Jul-19 @ 2:39 PM
I’ve just reported my son to the police for criminal damage to my home. This is about the 5th time he’s done it. The police have taken him into the police station until morning as I’m scared of him. I feel so bad but he is out of control and committedother offences. Who can be with him if I’m pressing charges. His dad isn’t interested in him as he isn’t a “good boy” anymore. I feel so dreadful for doing this
Mandy - 25-Jun-19 @ 2:17 AM
My 14 yr old son has been charged with an offence. How do I obtain legal representation and will I have to pay for this.
Kez - 1-Jun-19 @ 5:28 PM
I got arrested at the age of 16 for “smashing into cars” although I didn’t smash into any vehicles I got caught with a stolen credit card which one of the boys gave me. I’m being charged with criminal damage 2x, theft of a motor vehicle x3, possession of stolen goods, I’m being taken to court any ideas what will happen? Will I get tag or go to young offenders? Also first offence
Liamjedwards - 25-May-19 @ 2:34 PM
hi i have a 10 year old grandson who has been charged with attempted murder and has more charges to go up for hes been hanging about with 16 and 17 year olds and seem to get the blame hes got court on saturday the at the sheriff in glasgow could you give me an idea what might happen please thank you
bella - 18-Apr-19 @ 11:00 AM
My nearly 14 year old son has been Brough t home by police in handcuffs and chargef having a stanly knife its the first time ever.. Wat will happen i was to upset to take everything they said that social services will be contacted n i dont know wat happens i wish they coukd of just put him in a cell to give him a fright
Elaine - 10-Apr-19 @ 7:52 PM
My 14 year old daughter bought a 3 inch knife off another student at school and got caught with it police were called, what could happen she is not a violent child or planned to use it was just to show off
Pat - 27-Mar-19 @ 4:14 PM
My child is in a special needs school and sent home yesterday for fighting the other buys parents may get the police involved what will happen he is 14yrs old
Tee - 18-Dec-18 @ 9:54 AM
SAMMY- and I still believe your son is fine with a solicitor in interviews. Even though he asks for his mummy once he’s in the cells
The realist - 13-Dec-18 @ 12:32 AM
SAMMY- I see my previous reply to you has been deleted by moderators. So il say it in a nicer way. Your son is off the rails. The reason you aren’t being asked to be an ‘appropriate adult’ is because your not. Try teaching your son the good way to live. Not the bad. He’ll only get worse and worse and end up in big mans jail. Then he won’t feel so much of a ‘big man’ as he does now. Hope that makes sense and hope that version is ok with moderators
The realist - 13-Dec-18 @ 12:27 AM
HUNTER- record them doing it and also log times/dates so you can show how often it happens and then go to your local police station. Hopefully an officer going round speaking to their parents will put an end to it. Good luck
The realist - 12-Dec-18 @ 1:48 PM
When I was 14 I was arrested for shoplifting (I got in with a bad crowd). Nevertheless I was taken and put into a police cell for about 5-6 hours. My parents were contacted and collected me, I wasn’t charged but got a warning. However when I was locked up I was refused a phone call whereas others who were arrested alongside me for the same offense were given a phonecall and were not locked in a cell they got to sit around in a room. I’m now 32 but feel like this one incident has traumatized me all my life and I keep reliving it. Did they handle this correctly and is there anything I can do about it considering it was so long ago?
Sam - 6-Dec-18 @ 10:31 PM
We have a group of 11to13yr olds knocking on the door and running away is there no Any thing we get do to try and stop them talked to the parents no joy
Hunter - 4-Nov-18 @ 3:54 PM
Do police informed the parents if their child (aged 14 with autism) coming home from school is stopped and searched.
JINGENIE - 19-Oct-18 @ 5:22 PM
My son is 16 yrs old, and he is an suspect of an assault can and damage property and they said there are crowd of boys doing this thing and the older one refused to take a blame. They pointing only 2 a 18yrs and my boy, bt they said there are 5 people who were stabbed. I'm really confused because the witness said that there were throwing bottles not using knives. What I'm must suppose to do when the police come. Ineed an advice as a parent. Thanks.
Thaby - 30-Sep-18 @ 6:33 AM
My Brother was a victim of Grievous Bodily Harm, he has a deep cut above his eye and was almost stabbed by a group of 17 year old boys. The assault was intended to cause harm. What will happen to the young offenders??
PoPo - 27-Sep-18 @ 9:37 PM
My son is 16 and has been arrested a few times for various things everytime he is arrested they don't contact me I hear it from other people then call them and I'm not allowed to be his appropriate adult even tho I have nothing to do with the cases when I call for a update they never tell me why they have arrested him just that h is safe and well even tho my son ask for me everytime m really getting sick of them doing it now I need to no what my rights as his mum he due to appear in court today I have asked him what for and they won't tell me I said what time is he in court they said don't no they all go together
sammy - 27-Sep-18 @ 5:17 AM
Nadz - Your Question:
My 9 year old has just been charged for breaking a bit wooden fence In the back garden (scotland) however here it says a child of 10 cannot be charged so how come a 9 year old can? He wasn't arrested or anything just charged in our home

Our Response:
The age of criminal responsibility in Scotland is 8 years old. The age of criminal responsibility in England and Wales is 10 years old.
CivilRightsMovement - 18-Sep-18 @ 12:53 PM
My 9 year old has just been charged for breaking a bit wooden fence In the back garden (scotland) however here it says a child of 10 cannot be charged so how come a 9 year old can? He wasn't arrested or anything just charged in our home
Nadz - 17-Sep-18 @ 8:17 AM
My son is 10 an has a few different disorders he's got adhd an odd an he's kicking off big style I don't know what to do I rang my worker an they don't help us as a family I have 2 younger children an one has just got to her nans she is that scared as she see my 10 yr old hid me ..he's so strong am very aggressive do I get the police to help.... Mum in need
P - 21-Jul-18 @ 8:42 PM
I'm 13 and my friends and I made a small bonfire in a park today. It was completely harmless and controlled. We had water ready for if it got out of order. The police turned up and asked for our details. I lied about my age and gave them my mums boyfriends address. my friend had a fire extinguisher she found, it was empty but the police assumed we wanted to test it out and so we made the bonfire. That was untrue and i'm not really scared that i could get into trouble for the bonfire or for lying about my age and adress. help
helloitsme3883 - 16-Jul-18 @ 12:21 AM
I'm 12 and I accidently tripped and knocked the phone out a girls hand. It was very slightly cracked only in the corner but she demanded I pay. I refused to give her £46 in cash and wanted to either receive a receipt or be sent a bill. She became very angry when I suggested that but I said that's the only way I would pay (she is also 12) she said she didn't have the money to pay temporarily untill I paid despite the fact she just bought herself a new iphone7. I told her I would only pay by receipt or bye bill and then she told me she would call the police and have me arrested despite the fact I kept saying I was very willing to pay full (or half as we originally agreed). Can she actually get me arrested or is she just trying blackmail techniques and intimidation on me?
Lucia - 10-Jul-18 @ 9:41 AM
My son is 12 and Iam waiting on the police to come out to see him he had a fight but got the better of the boy but it ended up with the other boy in hospital... Iam so disgusted at my son but what could happen to him?
Lousie - 12-Jun-18 @ 10:57 AM
My step daughter is 15 and out of control..she was arrested lastnight having assulted her mum.The daughter is under social services too and very dangerous.Me and her dad cant have here as we have a young child too.If no family member want to take her in could my partner be made to have her and also what happens if she is charged (done this numerous times but nothing has happened)
Stressed - 5-Jun-18 @ 10:03 AM
Hi, my daughter is 17, 18 in July, and has been suspended from her work along side another girl. It involves money going missing when it was meant to go to the bank. What will happen if my daughter is proven guilty and will be sacked from her work?
Graceadamou_ - 24-May-18 @ 12:11 PM
Titchy - Your Question:
My son has attacked me and other people and has destroyed our home with damages how can they prosecute a 10 yr old my son I’m confused

Our Response:
The age of criminal responsibility in England and Wales is 10 years old. Children between 10 and 17 can be arrested and taken to court if they commit a crime. They are treated differently from adults and are
dealt with by youth courts
given different sentences
sent to special secure centres for young people, not adult prisons
CivilRightsMovement - 18-May-18 @ 12:53 PM
My son has attacked me and other people and has destroyed our home with damages how can they prosecute a 10 yr old my son I’m confused
Titchy - 17-May-18 @ 12:26 PM
My son is 16 and doesn't follow any rules in the household. Also starts fights with his siblings over nothing eg she glances at him and he starts a fight with her. What can I do... police refuse to do anything and social services won't do nothing cos he is over the age of 16.
G - 10-May-18 @ 9:55 PM
S - Your Question:
Hi, my nephew 14 video me in bath, he’s broken my trust and I’m so worried he has done this before even if not to me what can I do? Pls help

Our Response:
Talk to him. Tell him he could be in serious trouble with the police and that it will affect his lift and career choices in the future. Get him to talk and establish whether he's done this before. If so, you need to consider whether to tell the police or not.
CivilRightsMovement - 17-Apr-18 @ 11:54 AM
Hi, my nephew 14 video me in bath, he’s broken my trust and I’m so worried he has done this before even if not to me what can I do? Pls help
S - 16-Apr-18 @ 1:44 PM
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