Being arrested can be a frightening experience especially if it’s for the first time.
If the police arrest you, they will take you to the police station to the custody suite. Young people are entitled to free independent advice, either from a lawyer of your choice if you know one, or the police will call the duty solicitor.
It is important that you tell the police things that will help them to look after you such as medication you're taking or any health needs you have.
Parents and appropriate adult
The police must also find an appropriate adult to come to the station when you're being held in custody. The appropriate person is there to help you and be present during questioning and searching.
If this is not a parent or guardian, it will be a person appointed from a support service of appropriate adults that are appointed by the YOS.
If the police want to search you without your clothes, or if they want to take your DNA or finger prints, an appropriate adult should be with you.
If not already provided, you are entitled to a blanket and food and water. If you are feeling stressed you can ask to speak with an appropriate adult.
An appropriate adult must be present and you should wait for your lawyer, even if you think it will mean you have to stay longer.
Conversations with lawyers are private and they will give advice based on the information and circumstances you discuss with them. Their advice will usually be to do one of three things during the police interview.
- answer police questions
- make a written statement
- offer no comment.
Once they have enough evidence, the police must stop interviewing and decide what to do next.
- take no further action
- arrange a community resolution - this is when you agree to make an apology and to stop getting into trouble. You may be asked to agree to take part in activities to support you but you will not get a criminal record
- refer you to the YOS for an assessment followed by a Youth Caution. You may be invited to take part in activities to support you. A Youth Caution is recorded and can be quoted if you get in trouble again
- refer you to the YOS for an assessment followed by a Youth Conditional Caution. You will have to take part in activities to support you and keep you out of trouble. A Youth Conditional caution is recorded and if you don’t cooperate you may be taken to court
- charge you with a criminal offence and send you to court.
If the offences are not admitted, the police can take no further action or charge you with a criminal offence and send you to court.
If the police require further information or evidence, they can release you on bail. This means you have to come back to the police station when they tell you to. They may also tell you to obey certain rules which they call bail requirements.
If you do not obey them you are committing a further offence and can go straight to court.
The police won’t hold anyone for more than 24 hours without charging them.
If they decide to press charges, the police can release you with bail requirements to attend court. They will provide documents that state when and where the court hearing will be and what conditions must be obeyed before then. For example, to report to a police station or live at a particular place.
If certain legal conditions are met they can refuse bail and keep you in police custody until the court can see you. This may mean staying in the police station or being transferred to be looked after by the local children’s social services. This is usually only for a day or so as most courts operate six days per week.
What to expect in court
Sometimes they will want to make sure you have help to stop you getting into any more trouble. A YOS officer will explore what kind of support could be offered which is called a bail supervision package.
If the court agrees, they will release you on bail on the condition that you cooperate with your package. If you do not you can be taken back to court who might decide to deal with you in a different way.
Sometimes you may be placed into local authority care. This means you'll be looked after by children’s social services, especially if you have nowhere safe and stable to live which might mean you get into trouble again. You could be placed in a foster home or residential unit chosen by a social worker.
Where there are still concerns, especially where the offences are very serious or there is a history of re-offending whilst on bail, the court may remand you to youth detention accommodation.
This means you'll be held in a secure unit run by the prison service or a specialist private company, or a secure children’s home run by a local council. Where you are placed is decided by the Ministry of Justice and may not be local to where you live.