Whether it’s stop and search, or you’re taken to the police station for questioning, you should be aware of the rights you have

police looking at crowd

With almost 22,000 under 18s in police custody in 2017/18 and more than 277,000 stop and search incidents in England and Wales in the same year, it’s key that you are aware of your rights in case you do come into contact with the Police.

If the police stop you in the street

If the Police stop you in the street for a routine stop and search, then you have a right to ask them to explain why they have stopped you and why you will be searched. If they believe you are carrying illegal drugs, a weapon, stolen property or something that could be used to commit a crime then they can search you.

If an officer wants you to remove more than your coat or gloves then they have to be the same sex as you. An officer can place their hands inside your pockets, and feel around the inside of collars, socks and shoes. If they would like you to remove more clothes you should request that this is done in private, in a police car or at the station.

If you're taken into police custody

If you’re at a Police station and you are under 18 the Police must call a parent or carer to let them know you are there. Before they ask you any questions there has to be an appropriate adult with you.

This means an adult that you have chosen and you trust. If you’re over 18 but you have mental health issues then you are also allowed an appropriate adult with you. 

You are allowed to make someone aware of your whereabouts during your time at the Police station, but if friends, a parent or carer arrives and they’re not your appointed appropriate adult then you won’t be able to see them. Police can keep you in custody for 24 hours, unless extra time is granted.

Whatever your age, you are entitled to a free solicitor to advise you and help you from the moment you’re arrested, until you receive your sentence if your case ends up going to court. There are some specialist solicitors who work with young people.

If you're free to go home and you're under 18 then you will need to be collected from the police station by your parent or guardian. 

Useful information

  • Y-stop: a stop and search app by young people, for young people
  • Just for Kids Law: support, advice and legal help for young people in difficulty