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Guide for worried parents – information about “child” rights when arrested

May 14, 2020 by in category News with 0 and 0
Home > News > News > Guide for worried parents – information about “child” rights when arrested

Children are a group of individuals who are vulnerable and need extra protection if they are arrested.  The police should treat a person under the age of 18 as a young person or child.

If you are a parent, carer or guardian, it can be very worrying to learn that your child has become involved in the criminal justice system.

The first thing you may think is …are they ok?

Who is taking care of them?

You may question whether their rights and entitlements are being properly safeguarded?

Do they have a solicitor?

After the initial shock of learning of an arrest, you then may think, how is this allegation and potential conviction going affect their future?

Many more questions may be running through your mind some of which we can definitely answer. Feeling overwhelmed with angst as a parent of someone facing prosecution is so common that, we have created a quick and useful guide to help assist you and your child through what can be a difficult process for various reasons.

Police powers of arrest

police powers of arrestA police officer can arrest a young person if they have reasonable grounds to suspect that an offence has been committed.

A police officer must identify themselves to the suspect straight away, inform them of why they have been arrested and they must also explain what offence they suspect has been committed.

The police must then notify the parents or guardians that they have detained the young person as soon as possible unless any delay would cause harm to others or property, the police must also inform the parent upon arrival at the police station.

The police do not always have to arrest someone they suspect has committed an offence, especially if the suspect is a youth. They could arrange for the youth to attend at the police station at a later date if they want to interview them. Regardless of when the police wish for this to be conducted, the suspect should not discuss anything in relation to the suspected offence with the police without a solicitor present.

At the police station

Once at the police station, your child has certain rights and entitlements that must be adhered to by the police, such as the right to a solicitor. If the suspect does not have their own solicitor then the police will appoint a free duty solicitor.

A young person should only be kept in police custody if there are no other options and they should not be placed in a cell. The custody officer must also ensure any concerns about the health and welfare of the young person are addressed and relayed to correct people.

If a youth is arrested for drink driving or drug driving, the police do not have to delay the  breath blood or urine procedure to wait for an appropriate adult to arrive and an appropriate adult doe not have to be present when the youth is required to provide the sample under the Road Traffic Act 1988.

This is different in relation to a police station interview when one must be provided.

A youth may also consent to providing a sample of breath, blood or urine without the consent of an adult or parent but they must have mental capacity to understand what he or she is being asked to do and why and what the consequences are of refusing or failing to provide a sample i.e prosecution for a separate offence.


police interviewIf the police want to interview a youth, the police should make sure that an appropriate adult is present. This could be a parent, carer or trained appropriate adult etc, However this person must be suitable and must not be connected to the case for example, they must not be a witness.

An appropriate adult is present to make sure that your child is treated fairly and understands the questions being asked of them, they cannot answer questions for the child, but they can facilitate the communication between the suspect and the police.

Charge and Bail

Once your child has been interviewed a decision will be made whether to charge or release the youth without further action, however in some circumstances the police may require further time to gather evidence before a decision can be made and may release your child under investigation.

If your child is charged, they will usually be bailed to court at a later date or send a summons in the post, this will allow plenty of time for legal advice to be obtained from a specialist solicitor in relation to proceedings.

Obtaining legal advice at the earliest possible stage in proceedings can be critical, especially if the allegation is to be defended.

A solicitor will need to take a statement as the earliest opportunity, this helps to understand the evidence and issues in the case. Although the police only have 6 months in which to charge a suspect for a summary only (Magistrates case) matter, memory will fade over time and so it is important that this, sometimes crucial, information is provided to the solicitor as soon as possible.

The solicitor may also want to take steps preserve CCTV or other evidence that may help later on with a defence.


youth courtOnce at court, the youth will be dealt with in a special ‘youth court’ which is closed to the public, it is less formal that the adult magistrates’ court.

There are, of course, others measures to be taken into account as the police and court process can be a complicated one but it is of paramount important that a solicitor is involved from the very start to provide the best possible chance of success, whether that is in relation to accepting or denying any charge.

Key point summary:

  • The police must suspect that an offence has been committed.
  • The police must inform the parents that the suspect has been arrested in relation to an offence as soon as possible.
  • The child should not discuss the offence with the police without a solicitor present.
  • The child has certain rights and entitlements at the police station.
  • If the police wish to conduct and interview, a solicitor and appropriate adult should be present.
  • If the child has been charged or released under investigation, a solicitor should be instructed.
  • As solicitor should be instructed to provide legal advice prior to attending court and at court to present strong mitigating arguments or outlining issues to be taken in defending a charge.

If your child has been arrested for a motor related matter, it is important that sound legal advice is sought straight away. Contact our team of specialist solicitors in relation to a motoring matter, they will be able to provide you will specialist advise and answer any questions you have and guide you and your child through the process at this most worrying time.

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