You need to remember you have the right to be treated fairly and with respect by the Police.
What if you are stopped in the street?
If they stop you in the street, they must tell you their name, the station where they are based and why they have stopped you. If they stop you they probably suspect that you have done something illegal or that you might be about to break the law. You must give your name and address, but you don’t have to answer any legal questions until you have had legal advice. Stay calm because if you get abusive or angry it will only increase your chances of getting arrested.
If the Police suspect you of carrying an offensive weapon, drugs or anything else with which you could commit a crime, your outer clothing may be searched by a police officer if you are in public.
What if they want to take further action against you?
If you are under 17 you cannot be questioned at a police station without a parent or carer being present. If they can’t attend an ‘appropriate adult’ must be present, who may be a relative or family friend. The first offence may result in a reprimand, warning or charge, depending on the seriousness of the offence.
Whatever your age you are entitled to speak to a free duty solicitor in the police station. Always ask for their advice.
If you have to go to court, young people aged 10 -17 are taken to the Youth Court and if you are 18 and above, you will go to the Magistrates Court. At court you will be found either guilty, not guilty or the case could be dropped. If you are found not guilty you are free to go and also get back any property of yours that the Police have.
Criminal Justice System
The Criminal Justice System (CJS) has a website, which explains all aspects of the criminal justice system including the processes and people involved. You could also contact the Citizens Advice Bureau for information on your rights and for advice about legal representation.
Who can help?
The Criminal JUstice System website offers advice to explain all aspects of the criminal justice system, form victems of crime, witnesses and defendants. Visit their site at www.cjsonline.gov.uk/.
The Community Legal Service (CLS) runs an easy-to-use service that can help you deal with your legal problems. It provides free information, help and advice direct to the public on a range of common issues. Visit the CLS site at www.clsdirect.org.uk.