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 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
linny lou - 23-May-12 @ 11:35 PM
My 12 year old daughter was arrested two weeks ago . She was in a car with her dad and another friend when the police stopped the car believing her brother was in the car who they wanted for in connection with drug offensives . The men left the car and police offices not in uniform gave chase . My daughter was arrested and handcuffed behind the back her dad told the officers she was only 12 . After a while they realised the handcuffs was hurting her so handcuffed her in front . She was not making any attempts to run
She was taken to station and finger printed and photographed , placed in cell . No attempted to contact myself , her mum .
I found out she was there over three hours later by default when the police rang me to bring my husbands tablets to station . I asked if my 12 year old daughter was there too .
I then offered to send my friend to pick her up as I was over one hour away . This was when I was told she was being booked in on charges of conspirisy to supply class a drugs !!!!!
I picked her up when I drop tablets of . She is due to attend police station next week after being released on bail
What rights have we got in view to complaining . She has been having nightmares about being in a cell , going to prison
Smithy - 2-Mar-12 @ 12:09 AM
my 17 year old nephew was arrested at his home this morning and taken to police station for interview. His mum went wo the police station but the would not allow her to be present, are the police allowed to do this? what should his mum do next?
bill - 25-Feb-12 @ 11:44 AM
hi, my 11 year old son was arrested at school today at 12:30, the police told the school not to inform us of his arrest and the police didnt make contact with us until 14:45. could i ask if this is correct procedure as over 2 hours seems a little bit excessive to me. at the moment i am not sure as to whether he was questioned before we was informed has he is still at the police station with my wife and a duty solicitor but would i be right in thinking they should not question him at all before they inform us?i know a child can waive his / her right to an adult being present but surely an 11 year old is not fully aware of forgoing this right.
thank you for any help
Siddall - 5-Dec-11 @ 5:42 PM
My 14yr old son was arrested, they took fingerprints, photograph and saliva sample. Can they do all this without my consent?
John - 21-Oct-11 @ 11:47 AM
As your child is 17, the police do not need to notify you of an arrest. Children under 17 years old who are arrested have the right to have their parents present when being questioned by the police.
CivilRightsMovement - 20-Jul-11 @ 9:37 AM
My son was arrested, he is just 17. When I phoned the police station they told me they don't have to notify me because he is 17 and he does not need an adult with him. Is this true?