What to do if your child has been arrested?
Lucinda Dore Legal Services understand that for most parents this can be devastating and for those who have never had any dealings with the police, most parents have no idea what to do next. We hear from parents who need help if their child has been asked to attend the police station to answer questions in relation to a suspected offence, who feel that their child has been wrongfully arrested or have been mistreated by the police.
Receiving a knock at the door from a policeman, a note through the door or a phone call telling you that your child has been arrested can be upsetting, particularly as this can often occur late at night or in the early hours of the morning when solicitor’s offices are closed and parents don’t know what to do.
Lucinda Dore Legal Services can help you.
If your child has been arrested you can contact us. We will be able to phone the police station on your behalf to obtain information why your child has been arrested. We will be able to attend the police station either with you, if you are able to act as an appropriate adult, or with another person nominated by you or the police to act as an appropriate adult.
You will want to be sure that the police have acted appropriately by arresting your child; they cannot do so without having reasonable grounds to suspect that they have committed an offence and it is appropriate for them to be taken to a custody centre to be detained. We will be able to make sure and make representations to the police if they have not acted according to the law.
Most parents most importantly want to make sure that their child is safe, knowing that their child will often be just as frightened as they are about what is going to happen. We can provide you with the information and advice that you need.
We can also assist you if you have received a policeman’s card through the door. This will usually simply ask you or your child to contact a policeman in relation to an offence. We often hear from parents who respond to these themselves believing this to be the right thing to do, only to find themselves speaking to an investigator and giving evidence against their child. We can ensure that you protect your child (and yourselves) by speaking to that police officer on your behalf, to ask why they want to speak to your child and if appropriate we will arrange a time for you, your child and a solicitor to attend the police station at a mutually convenient time to be interviewed in relation to the offence.
Don’t make the mistake of attending the police station unrepresented believing that this is the right thing to do. Most people respect and trust the police, as they should do, as they protect the law, but it must not be forgotten that the police want to speak to your child as they believe that they have committed an offence. We often find that parents are reluctant to involve a solicitor thinking it will make your child look guilty if they involve a solicitor; this is a common mistake to make. We usually find that the assistance of a solicitor puts you on an equal level with the police, reassures you that you are doing the right thing, prepares you for what to expect and often achieves a better result. For example we may be able to advise your child whether to exercise their right to silence or to admit the offence if they are eligible for a reprimand or final warning as an alternative to a criminal prosecution.
We have heard many parents tell us that their child admitted an offence believing that this what the right thing to do only to find out at a later stage that they hadn’t committed an offence – sometimes adolescents want to keep their friends out of trouble without realising the implications that this can have on them in the future when they apply for jobs or education. This is where we can help, we advise you on the law and whether the police can prove an offence has been committed.
If your child has attended the police station already with or without a solicitor we can assist you if your child is bailed or summonsed to attend court for an offence.
Frequently Asked Questions about Youth Offences
The police should only detain your child if they have reasonable grounds to believe that an offence has been committed and that detaining them will preserve evidence relating to that crime and there is a danger of your child absconding, or for their own safety. They should be taken to the nearest police station or custody centre that has space.
Any youth is entitled to have you act as an appropriate adult. If you contact the police non emergency number you can ask the contact centre to put you through to the custody centre where your child is detained. The custody sergeant in most cases can give you information regarding your child’s detention and they will usually ask if you would like to act as your child’s appropriate adult.
Any youth who has been arrested is entitled to have an appropriate adult who is usually a parent, responsible friend or family member who is unconnected with the offence who can attend the police station to assist the young person. They can be present when the child is given their rights by the police, ensure that they are being treated fairly, sit in the interview with the child and assist the police and child to communicate with each other. Adolescents often have difficulty communicating with the police due to fear or even shock, having been arrested. A parent will be able to assist, you know your child best. If you are unable to attend and act as an appropriate adult (for example as you have your other children to care for) and you cannot find a suitable alternative person, the police will provide one free of charge.
If you are interviewed about an alleged offence, in order to use your interview as evidence, the police must give you your rights read out the police caution:-
“you do not have to say anything, but it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something that you later rely on in court”
This means that you have a right to silence however; this right should be acted on with caution as a court may draw an inference from your silence, if you rely on a defence which you didn’t mention in your police interview.
An interview under caution is usually tape recorded and simply means that the police have read out your rights and the police caution meaning a transcript of that interview can be prepared and read in court as evidence.
A voluntary interview is the same as an interview under caution as it will usually still be under caution and usually will be tape recorded, although you are not detained or under arrest.
A reprimand is usually available to 10 – 17 year olds if they admit to the offence and have not been arrested before. They will last for 5 years or until your child is 18. Your child will have a police record but not a criminal conviction but it will show on a CRB disclosure check (especially if it is an enhanced CRB).
This is usually available for 10 – 17 year olds if they admit to the offence, the offence is relatively serious, but not serious to warrant court intervention or they have previously received a reprimand. Those who receive a Final Warning will be referred to the Youth Offending Services who may intervene if they feel that your child needs assistance to prevent further criminal behaviour.
If the police have investigated a crime but cannot prove that a crime has been committed the suspect will be released with No Further Action. This means that this is the end of the case; however, should the police obtain further evidence relating to the offence you can be re arrested for the offence (this is rare).
Lucinda can be contacted at email@example.com should you need her advice and assistance.