Police station: advising and supporting juveniles

Some categories of detainee are considered particularly vulnerable. These are defined in Code C 3.12- 20 and include:

• Juveniles.

• Those unable to speak or understand English.

• Those suffering from a mental health disorder;

• Those blind or unable to read.

Special arrangements are in place to protect them.

What must the Custody Officer do in relation to juveniles?


Identify the person responsible for the juvenile’s welfare (Code C 3.13) and inform them of the arrest and request that they attend the police station .


Ensure that a girl under the age of 18 is under the care of a woman (Code C 3.20A)

while at the police station.

Prevent any juvenile from associating with adults under arrest unless they are family members or jointly charged with the juvenile.


Identify an Appropriate Adult. This is the person responsible for the juvenile, failing that a social worker and failing that a responsible adult not associated with the police. A solicitor is not the appropriate adult.

Role of the Appropriate Adult

• Support, advise and assist the young person:

• Ensure the young person understands what is happening. This includes discussing with the young person the right to have legal representation;

• Oversee that the police are acting fairly and appropriately;

• Assist with communication between the police and young person.

The Investigation Process

1. The Interview:

The caution must be repeated in the presence of the Appropriate Adult who must normally be present during the interview (Code C 11.15).

2. Identification and taking of fingerprints or other samples

In addition to  the procedures set out  above, for  children over 14 the  additional  consent of a parent or guardian is required. For those under 14 only a parent or guardian can give consent.

Police Options After Investigation of a Juvenile

1. Charge in the normal way

The welfare of the child must be considered in relation to decisions on bail; in some circumstances the child may be detained in their own interest.

A copy of the charge sheet must be given to the Appropriate Adult.

2. Adopt an alternative to charging. These are:

• Community Resolution. Disposal of the matter by informal agreement between all parties. This does not involve any criminal record.

• Youth Caution. (s.66 ZA Crime and Disorder Act 1998). There must be sufficient

evidence to charge, the juvenile must have admitted the offence and the police must conclude that it is not in the public interest for the matter to be addressed in another way.

• Youth Conditional Caution (s.48 Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 ). There must be sufficient evidence to charge, the juvenile must have admitted the offence and the police must explain that non-compliance with conditions can lead to the later prosecution of the offence. The juvenile must understand this.