Young People

Getting Arrested


If a young person is arrested

They will be taken to a police station with a custody area.Getting arrested


A custody officer has to authorise the detention and tell the young person their rights and record their personal details.


A parent/guardian or an appropriate adult, for young people under 17 years, has to be informed as soon as possible and asked to attend the police station.


The following rights apply to a young person when they have been arrested:


  • The right to have someone informed of the arrest.
  • The right to consult privately in person or by telephone with a solicitor (independent legal advice available free of charge). If a young person does not know a solicitor there is a duty solicitor scheme that the custody officer can contact, or they can choose one from a directory.
  • The right to consult a copy of the Codes of Practice. This is a book which explains the guidelines police must work to concerning the treatment of people under arrest.
  • A copy of a leaflet that sets out rights, welfare and other entitlements.
  • The young person should be reminded that they are under ‘caution’ and that they are entitled to a copy of the custody record.

What happens next

  • Personal property will then be checked and the young person will be searched by a police officer. (Under the Police & Criminal Evidence Act 1984 Code of Practice, a custody officer may authorise a strip search if considered necessary).
  • All property will be logged and some items may be retained, for example, items of value, items that could be used by the young person to harm themselves or others.
  • The young person will sign the custody record and they will be taken to a detention room.
  • If they appear to be injured or suffering from any medical or mental health condition, the police surgeon will be contacted immediately.
  • When an appropriate adult is present the custody sergeant will go through the procedure again so that all parties are aware of their rights. The appropriate adult is also entitled to view the custody record and will be asked to sign it.
  • An interview will follow.
  • If the young person or the appropriate adult have asked for a solicitor, the interview will not usually take place until the solicitor has been spoken to.
  • The interview will usually be tape-recorded.
  • Following the interview, the interviewing officer will then discuss the case with the custody officer who will then decide what action to take.

Different options following arrest


No Action

If no further action is proposed, it may mean that there is insufficient evidence to prove guilt. If the offence is a minor, non-recordable offence or it is minor anti-social behaviour, the custody officer may decide to give the young person some firm advice about their future behaviour.


Restorative Justice Resolution (RJR)


RJR may be administered for some low level offences to first time youth offenders who admit their actions. A formal interview is not required and most RJRs take place without the offender being arrested. Generally, the police will hold a meeting between the offender and the victim. The offender is given the chance to apologise, explain his/her actions and make some form of reparation or repayment. It also gives the victim the opportunity to tell the offender how they have been affected by the offence.


A local police record is kept, but the matter is not recorded on PNC (Police National Computer), it will not be disclosed on a CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) check.



A reprimand is a formal verbal warning given by a police officer to a young person who admits they are guilty of a minor offence. This is usually given after an RJR.


Police Computer records can record the reprimand indefinitely.A young thief could face a criminal record and even time in a Young Offenders' Institution.


Final Warning

A final warning is a formal verbal warning given by a police officer to a young person who admits their guilt for a serious offence. This usually comes after an RJR and a reprimand. The above pre-court police action, including reprimand and RJR, are all dependent on the seriousness of the offence committed. For example, if a young person breaks into someone’s house they could go straight to court, with no option of receiving a reprimand or final warning.


Police Computer records can record the reprimand indefinitely.


Youth justice is like a ladder, where the only way is up. For example, if a young person commits an offence and goes straight to a final warning, you cannot at a later date receive a reprimand.



If the young person has been in trouble two or more times with the police, or the offence is very serious, they will be charged and given a date to attend court. They will usually then be bailed from the police station. They may be given conditional bail to prevent them doing something related to the offence (i.e. to be at home between 6pm and 8am).


If a young person has their bail refused, for example if they are a persistent young offender or they are a danger to the general public, Children, Schools and Families or Social Workers will usually find alternative accommodation for them rather than keeping them at a police station.


Bail for Further Investigation

If the officer in the case has further investigations to complete, the custody officer may decide to bail the young person to return to the police station at a suitable time and date. When the young person answers their bail one of the above options will apply.


Definition of a young person

A young person is a person aged 10-17 years. Someone who is actually 17 years does not need an appropriate adult.


What is an appropriate adult?

An appropriate adult can be a parent or guardian, a social worker or another responsible adult aged 18 or over, who is not a police officer or employed by the police.