A police station is the place that the police are lawfully allowed to keep a person in custody, often in a police cell. A person can also be questioned at a police station this is called an interview.
Children aged 10-17 can be arrested by the police and can be detained at the police station. There are rules about how children must be treated at the police station, these are called the codes of practice or PACE codes.
Children have special rights:
- The police have to tell the child’s parents (or person responsible for their welfare), that they have been arrested, why they have been arrested, and where they are detained.1 This must be done immediately.
- Children have the right to an appropriate adult. Appropriate adults support children at the police station and protect their rights. Children can ask to speak privately with their appropriate adult.
- Children should be kept separate from adults when they are at the police station (or when being transported). This means they should never share a cell with an adult. They should never travel in a car or police van with an adult (other than a police officer).
- Girls should always be looked after by a female police officer.
- Children who have been charged with a criminal offence should not be held at a police station overnight and should be transfered from the police station to local authority accommodation.2
Children at the police station should always get legal advice from a lawyer who specialises in youth justice law. Children who commit less serious offences and are at low risk of reoffending can be offered out of court disposals that avoid them going to court.
- Paragraph 3.13 Code C, section 34(2) & (3) Children and Young Persons Act 1933 (back)
- Section 38(6) Police and Criminal Evidence (PACE) Act 1984 (back)