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What support is given to children and young people who are arrested? Task

The age of criminal responsibility in England and Wales is 10 years old. This means that children under 10 can’t be arrested or charged with a crime. 

Children between 10 and 17 can be arrested and taken to court if they commit a crime. They are treated differently from adults as they are:

  • Dealt with by youth courts
  • Given different sentences
  • Sent to special secure centres for young people, not adult prisons

Young people aged 18 are treated as adults by the law. If they’re sent to prison, they’ll be sent to a place that holds 18- to 25-year-olds, not a full adult prison. 


The support a child or young person gets may come from:

  • Their parent(s)
  • Social workers
  • A solicitor
  • The local youth offending team

A parent can act as an ‘Appropriate Adult’ for their child. This means that they can be present in the interview between the police and the child to ensure that it is carried out fairly. If a parent cannot act as the Appropriate Adult, a suitably trained individual should be provided instead. 

Children and young people under 18 who are arrested for criminal offences have the same right to legal advice as adults. Children and young people have the right to have access to a solicitor to act on their behalf. The solicitor should have time to talk with the child or young person before any police interviews take place. 

Social workers and the local youth offending team can also offer advice and support.

Youth offending teams work with young people that get into trouble with the law. They look into the background of a young person and try to help them stay away from crime. 

They also:

  • Run local crime prevention programmes
  • Help young people at the police station if they’re arrested
  • Help young people and their families at court
  • Supervise young people serving a community sentence
  • Stay in touch with a young person if they’re sentenced to custody

The youth offending team gets involved if a young person:

  • Gets into trouble with the police or is arrested
  • Is charged with a crime and has to go to court
  • Is convicted of a crime and given a sentence

Youth offending teams are part of the local council and are separate from the police and the courts. 

They work with:

  • The police
  • Probation officers
  • Health, housing and children’s services
  • Schools and education authorities
  • Charities and the local community 

Usually, the police are the first people to contact the youth offending team. Family members and friends can also contact them if they’re worried about a young person’s behaviour.