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Wednesday 16th January 2013

Youths at the Police Station

The age of criminal responsibility in the UK is 10. This means that anyone aged 10 or over can be arrested if the police have grounds to suspect that they have committed a criminal offence and an arrest is deemed necessary to secure and preserve evidence. Nonetheless arresting a young person should not be done lightly and taken only as a last resort.

Being arrested can be very intimidating even for an adult which is why it is always advisable to seek legal advice. The police have a duty to put any person who has been arrested in touch with a solicitor as soon as possible if one is requested. Contrary to what you may have been told, a solicitor is rarely the cause of delay in the police station and, in fact, it could mean that the police deal with your case more quickly. Neither is asking for a solicitor a sign of guilt, it is a fundamental right and when you consider the advantages it is a simple matter of common sense. Your solicitor should be totally independent of the police and free of charge.

If a person under the age of 17 is arrested there are also special rules that govern how the police must deal with them. It is the duty of the Custody Sergeant to ensure that these rules are followed.

Your rights as a young person in police custody
The Custody Sergeant will identify and inform the parent or guardian who is usually responsible for your welfare that you have been arrested and the reasons for your arrest. If you are already subject to a Court Order the police should also contact your Supervising Officer (usually a member of the Youth Offending Team or the tagging company) and inform them of your whereabouts. This is in addition to your right to have a person (of your choice) informed that you have been arrested.

You should not be placed in a police cell unless there is no other secure accommodation available.

The police are not allowed to interview you under caution unless an appropriate adult is present. Normally the appropriate adult is a parent or guardian unless you are estranged from your parent or your parent is not deemed appropriate in which case a social worker or someone of similar standing will be asked to step in. The role of the appropriate adult is to ensure that you are being treated properly and fairly and that you understand what is happening. Appropriate adults will also need to be present when you are given your rights, when an identification procedure is carried out and during the taking of samples and intimate searches.

You, like anyone else in custody, are entitled to ask for the solicitor of your choice (or a duty solicitor) and you must be permitted sufficient time to consult in private with your solicitor – this may be with or without your appropriate adult present which ever you prefer. Your solicitor cannot act as your appropriate adult as this could give rise to a conflict.

If you are asked to provide any samples then the police must seek consent from your parent or guardian. If you are 14 years old and under only the consent of the parent or guardian is required. If you are aged 15 or 16, the police must obtain both your consent and that of a parent or guardian before a sample can be taken.

Your rights as a parent or guardian
The police should contact you as soon as possible to inform you of your child’s whereabouts and the reasons for their arrest and detention.

Normally, you will be asked to attend the police station to act as the appropriate adult. However, there are exceptions to this for example if you are believed to be a victim, witness or suspect in the offence that is being investigated. If you are not appropriate or you are unavailable the police will ask a social worker to step in and act as the appropriate adult in your place.

If you are asked to be the appropriate adult you have a duty to consider whether the young person should have legal representation and you are entitled to request a solicitor even if the young person has not done so. We would always recommend that a solicitor is contacted so as to safeguard the rights of the young person. It could also be reassuring for both you and the young person to have someone who is experienced in the procedure to guide you through the process.

If you have a child who is being held in police custody and you have any concerns or questions about what is likely to happen, please feel free to contact us and we will do our best to assist.

Here at Rundlewalker we have an experienced team who are available to advise at the police station 24/7. Our advice and attendance at the police station is FREE OF CHARGE to any person of any age while at the police station. All you need to do is ask the police to call us using either ‘Rundlewalker’ or a named solicitor from our team if preferred. We can be contacted from any police station countrywide any time of day or night. Call us on 0800 015 2568.

Philippa Jefferies – 01392 209209 Email: phiIippa.jefferies@rundlewalker.com
Julia Brassington – 01392 209207 Email: julia.brassington@rundlewalker.com

All calls will be treated in complete confidence.