What should I do if my child has been arrested?
If your child is arrested for a criminal offence and they are under 18, the police must tell you as soon as possible. The police should not interview your child until you are present, unless a delay would mean an immediate risk of harm to someone or serious loss of, or damage to, property.
In such cases, the police have to ensure that a suitable independent adult is present to make sure your child is treated fairly. Your child has the same right to legal advice as an adult.
If your child is under 10, they cannot be taken to court and charged with a criminal offence. However, once they are 10 or over, they are treated in the same way as any young person under 18 and will be dealt with by the Youth Justice System.
It sounds pretty obvious, but you would be surpised how many times parents were misled by police officers. "Don't worry you don't need a lawyer. We just want to talk to your child. He needs to be honest and be truthful and tell us everything he did." The truth of the matter is that anything your child says can and will be used against him in the juvenile court proceedings.
In general, your child should not speak to the police. You should unerstand that the prosecution have to prove the elements of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt. When you allow your child to speak to the police, the prosecution is able to corroborate the allegations leading to criminal charges against your child.
The Police often tell the child they already have a lot of evidence against them and if they cooperate, it will look favorably for them. This is misleading and will not assist your child. your child must not answer any question in relation to the investigation until they have a legal representive. They will then speak on your childs behalf and advise your child on what they should do whilst at the police station and there after.
The police should not detain you for more than 24 hours without charging you, unless an officer with the rank of superintendent (or above) or a magistrate gives permission. A police officer with the rank of superintendent (or above) can authorise detention for a further 12 hours. Magistrates can authorise further detentions up to a maximum of 96 hours. If you are suspected of a crime and have been released on bail, this time doesn't count towards the 96 hour detention period.
Once charged, if you're still in detention, you should be brought before the magistrates the next day (but not on Christmas Day, Good Friday or any Sunday).
If you’re arrested as a suspected terrorist, different rules apply. A judge can authorise continued detention, in stages, for up to 14 days.
If you want to challenge anything the police have done then get the names and addresses of any witnesses, make a written record as soon as possible after the event. It should be witnessed, dated and signed. If you are injured, or property is damaged, then take photographs or video recordings as soon as possible and have physical injuries medically examined.
If you have been treated unfairly then complain to a solicitor about possible legal action.
Your child has the same rights and entitlements as an adult. They are entitled to free independant legal advice at the police station.