Can Police Talk To A Child Without A Parent Present?
It's a parent's worst nightmare: picking up the phone to a call letting them know that their child is being questioned by the police without a parent or guardian being present.
What rights does a parent have in this situation?
What rights does a child have in this situation?
And what happens when the interview is over?
Can The Police Question A Child Without A Parent Or Guardian Being Present?
The answer to this is, unfortunately: Yes. There is no law that requires police to notify or get permission from a parent or guardian before questioning a minor child.
The only exception to this would be if the child is in custody and being interrogated as part of a criminal investigation.
So, while it is perfectly legal for police to question your child without you present, it is always in your child's best interest to have a parent or guardian present during questioning.
They may give the impression that they are "perfectly capable" of dealing with it themselves, when the truth is; they are usually either embarrassed or fearful of the fallout that telling their parent will likely result in... It is also worth bearing in mind that minors are especially vulnerable to giving false confessions when interrogated without an adult present.
Whatever is said can, unfortunately, be very difficult to walk back...
The Children Act 2004 places a statutory duty on police to give priority to the welfare of the child when questioning them, regardless of whether or not a parent or guardian is present. However, in practice, this does not always happen.
In England and Wales, police are required by law to follow certain rules and procedures when questioning children as witnesses or suspects.
These are set out in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) and the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 (YJCEA).
The PACE rules state that a police officer must:
- Caution a child before questioning them (tell them that they do not have to say anything, but anything they do say may be used as evidence in court).
- Tell the child that they have the right to have a solicitor present during questioning.
- Ensure that the questions are put in a way that the child can understand.
- Stop questioning the child if they ask to speak to a solicitor or parent/guardian.
The YJCEA rules state that, in addition to the above, a police officer must:
- Ensure that the child is not questioned in a police station unless it is necessary and in the interests of justice to do so
- Ensure that the child has an appropriate adult with them during questioning (this could be a parent/guardian, solicitor or other independent person)
- Stop questioning the child if they ask to speak to an appropriate adult.
What Rights Does A Parent Have In This Situation?If you find out that your child is being questioned by police without you present, the first thing you should do is demand to speak with your child.
You have the right to know where your child is and what is going on. If the police refuse to let you speak with your child or will not tell you where they are, politely but firmly insist on speaking to a supervisor.
If the police still will not let you speak to your child or tell you where they are, you should contact an attorney.
You may also want to consider speaking with the police yourself, but keep in mind that anything you say can be used against your child in court. It is best to consult with a legal representative first.
What Happens After A Police Interview?
This will, of course, depend on the outcome of said interview...
If the police question your child as a witness to a crime, they may ask them to give a written or video-recorded statement. This will be used as evidence in court.
If the police question your child as a suspect, they may arrest them and take them into custody. The child will then be interviewed again, this time in the presence of a solicitor.
A decision will then be made as to whether or not to charge your child with a crime. If they are charged, they will appear in court. If they are found guilty, they may be given a caution, community sentence or sent to prison.
If your child is released without charge, the police will keep a record of their name and details of the incident on file. This information will be shared with other forces if your child is ever questioned by the police again.
If you believe that your child's rights have been breached at any stage during the police interview process, you should contact a solicitor.
It is also worth noting that, in England and Wales, children under the age of 10 cannot be charged with a crime, however, once they are 10 and above, they can be arrested and charged like any other under-18's.
If your child is questioned by police without you present, it is important that you know your rights and the procedures that should be followed. If you have any concerns, do not hesitate to contact a solicitor.
It is important for parents to be aware of their rights when it comes to their children being questioned by the police. If you find out that your child has been interviewed without you present, do not hesitate to contact a solicitor.
The article provides an overview of what may happen after a police interview with a child and what steps parents can take if they feel that their rights have been violated.
Can a parent refuse a forensic interview?
No, a parent cannot refuse a forensic interview. However, if a parent has concerns about the interview, they should contact a solicitor.
How long can a 16 year old be kept in custody?
There is no definitive answer to this question as it will depend on the individual case. However, in general, a 16 year old can be kept in custody for up to 24 hours before being charged with a crime.
Can police interview a child at school?
Yes, the police can interview a child at school. However, they should notify the parent or guardian beforehand. If the parent or guardian is not present, the police should wait until they arrive before questioning the child.