Can I attend a police station interview with my child?

Your child must have an ‘appropriate adult’ present for the interview. This could be a parent, a family member or a family friend. However, if there is no one available that the child knows, then the police will arrange for somebody from the appropriate adult service to attend. An appropriate adult is there to protect the welfare of the child and to make sure they are being looked after properly and that they understand what is going on.

What happens if my child is arrested and interviewed under caution?

Once you’ve seen your child in the police station there’ll likely be a delay until your child is interviewed. The police should give you some sort of indication as to how long it will take before the child is interviewed. However, sometimes they cannot do this, and it is your choice whether to wait at the station until the interview takes place, or whether to return to the police station once they are ready. Your child’s lawyer is unlikely to attend the police station until the police are ready for interview.

If the child is detained in police custody, they should be held in appropriate facilities separate from adults. The conditions should be suitable for their age, and they should receive proper care and supervision.

Your child has the following rights having been arrested –

  • The right to free and independent legal advice, in person and on the telephone,
  • To inform someone where they are usually by way of a telephone call.
  • The right to call someone can be delayed in certain circumstances such as if the police intend to search your child’s home.
  • The right to an appropriate adult to ensure their welfare is being looked after.
  • There is a duty to ensure that your child is provided with food and drink. Equally they should be kept warm (or cool) and given medical attention if necessary.

Can I get free legal advice for my child at the police station?

Your child is entitled to free and independent legal advice. So there is no cost and any lawyer obtained on behalf of your child is independent from the police. If you or your child has a solicitor, you can specifically request them. However, if they do not have their own lawyer, they can request a duty solicitor.

My child’s police station interview has finished, what’s next?

The police can only hold your child at the police station for up to 24 hours after an arrest, after which they must charge your child or release them. Once charged, the police can refuse bail and they will be taken to court at the next available sitting.

The police can only refuse to give a person bail, once charged, if they believe that they might commit further offences, fail to attend court or interfere with witnesses in the case, or in certain situations if they are concerned about the person’s welfare or if they cannot verify where they live.

First time offenders

If your child is being investigated for a criminal offence for the first time various options could happen. If there are reasonable grounds to suspect they have committed an offence and it’s relatively minor it is highly likely that your child will be referred to the youth offending team which is otherwise known as a ‘triage’. This is an alternative to being sent to court. Alternatively, your child could be given what’s known as a youth caution.

In order to be eligible for a youth caution or triage the young person will need to make an admission, this means admit to the offence alleged. This can be done in the interview either verbally or by way of a written statement.

Both triage and a youth caution mean that your child will be asked to cooperate with the youth offending services (YOS). The purpose of this is to see if there is any help or intervention that your child needs in order to prevent them from re-offending. How long your child is required to engage with the YOS depends on their personal circumstances.

If triage or a youth caution is not an appropriate disposal because of the seriousness of the offence or because your child has been in trouble before then your child will be charged and sent to court.