- How old does a child or young person need to be charged with a crime?
- My child has been arrested what should I do?
- My child has got to go to court what do I need to do?
- A ‘youth’ has committed a crime against me what are my rights?
- I have been arrested and charged with a crime what is going to happen to me?
- A young person I work with has been sentenced in court what do I need to do?
- I am worried about my child committing crime what should I do?
- What happens if my child does not attend West Mercia Youth Justice Service appointments?
- Can a child be sent to prison?
- I am worried that my child is being exploited by a gang or older people who get into trouble with the police?
- How can I keep my child safe online?
The legal age of criminal responsibility is 10 years old, a young person is defined as someone under the age of 18 years.
You should be contacted by the police, if not contact them and explain you are the parent. You will be invited to attend the police station (unless you are the victim) if they plan to interview your child. Make sure your child has a solicitor present, a duty one can be provided by the police. If you cannot attend the police will arrange for an ‘Appropriate Adult’ to support your child.
See this link https://www.yss.org.uk/appropriate-adult
All children under 16 years must have a parent, carer or suitable adult with them in court, and it advised for 16 and 17 year olds. You will be able to support to your child before court and in the court itself. There will be a lot of work and conversation done outside court so that everyone understands what may happen in court and what the options may be. Make sure you speak with your child’s solicitor or barrister, also with the WMYJS worker who will help you and the child understand what is going on.
If you’ve been a victim of crime you have the right to receive a certain level of service from the criminal justice system. Your rights are explained in the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime (the Victims’ Code). The Code tells you what you can expect from each criminal justice agency, including the police, the Crown Prosecution Service, Probation, Youth Justice and the courts.
If you are under 18years old and have been arrested and charged with a crime your case will either be going to court or dealt with via and Out of Court Disposal. If you have a court date in you should attend, if you cannot attend tell your solicitor or tell the court directly. If you have not been given a court date you may get one by letter which will tell you where and when to attend you should still attend, if you don’t attend a warrant for your arrest may be issued. If you have committed a low level offence and you have admitted it to the police you may be considered for an Out of Court Disposal (sometimes called ‘Diversion’ from court) which means you will be visited by someone from WMYJS and assessed as to whether this is appropriate for you.
Contact the West Mercia Youth Justice Service so we can work together to ensure the young person does not reoffend and coordinate our work
Try to speak to your child and find out what is going on for them, talk about your concerns and maybe come up with an agreed set of actions that you can both agree to. This can be a stressful and difficult time to be a parent and if you want extra help you can contact your local children’s services as ask for the Early Help Team (see the contact us pages for links). If your child is already with the WMYJS contact their worker and talk through your concerns.
The expectations will be explained to the young person and parents at the beginning of their order. If a child or young person does not attend WMYJS appointments without good reason they are likely to be returned to court. They will be given an opportunity to explain why they have not attended and they may be resentenced to a different order, or given a longer order or fined.
If a child is given a custodial sentence they don’t go to a ‘prison’ as you might think for an adult but into the ‘secure estate’. This could be a Secure Children’s Home (SCH), Secure Training Centre (STC) or Youth Offending Institutes (YOI). Which place they go to depends on their age and risk factors. Children are only given custodial sentences for the most serious offences. In 2020 only 5 young people in West Mercia were sentenced to custody. The first half of a custodial sentence is usually be served in custody and the second half will be supervised by the WMYJS in the community.
Talk to your child calmly as they may well see who you think of as a gang exploiting them as their friends and mates who look out for them. This is how gangs recruit young people through befriending and giving them things before they are possibly tied into debt or emotional abuse to do things that they would not normally do. If you are worried about the safety of a child contact either the police or children’s services in your local area. View more information from the NSPCC
If you have not already done so talk with your child about what this means, they may know more than you think. Ask if they know things that have happened to other people online, they will probably know someone who has had a problem. Install parental controls on your home broadband if you have not already.
Use these links to get more information: