• You have rights even if you are in trouble with the police
  • Your rights don’t stop you being in trouble – but they are there to make sure you are treated properly
  • Even if you are in trouble, decisions that are made about you should be in your best interests

Being in trouble can mean lots of things – it can mean being in trouble at home or at school for breaking a rule or behaving in a way that someone with responsibility for you doesn’t agree with. It can also mean being in trouble with the police because you’ve broken the law.

Breaking rules will have consequences, but they are usually less serious for you than breaking the law. Most of this section of the website is about breaking the law, but you can find out more about breaking rules here. Whichever situation you are in though, you have rights, and should be treated properly, as a child.

If you’re in trouble with the police, it is usually because you have broken a law or because the police think you might have broken a law. A ‘law’ is a specific kind or rule that has been decided by the government. The laws that we are talking about in this part of the website are rules the Government has made about what you can’t do to other people, or to other people’s property or possessions. It includes things like

  • Stealing from someone (like taking their mobile phone or bike)
  • Damaging someone’s property (may be smashing a car window or keying a car)
  • Threatening someone (like telling someone that you are going to hurt them or kill them)
  • Hurting someone (hitting or knifing someone or something like that)

If you do something to break one of these laws, the police will get involved to find out what happened. If the police think there is enough information to prove that you did break the law, you may have to go to court where a judge will decide what happens to you.

The UNCRC includes rights to help and support you and make sure you are treated properly if you are in trouble with the police. These rights mean you should be treated with respect, and aren’t treated cruelly. You have rights to protect you from harm if you have to be kept away from your family because of something you have done to break the law. You also have rights to make sure you get the right sort of help from someone who understands the law.

As well as these specific rights, which are there to look after you if you have broken the law, your other children’s rights still apply. This means that even if you have broken the law, and are in trouble with the police,

  • The people making decisions about you have to take into consideration what are your best interests
  • You should not be treated differently and unfairly for a reason like your race or your sex, or because you have a disability,
  • You should be involved in decisions about you, and be able to voice your opinion
  • You should have enough information to help you understand what’s happening to you, and what could happen to you

You still have the right to education, to good healthcare and to all the other rights included in the UNCRC.

In Wales, your children’s rights, which come from the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), are really important. In Wales, anything that happens to you if you’re under 18 has to recognise your rights as a child as well as your human rights. Although the law about this kind of activity – called ‘criminal law’ - is the same in England and Wales, the way the law is put into practice in Wales may be different to what happens in England, to make sure your children’s rights are respected.

The laws that apply in England and Wales about what happens to you if you’re under 18 and have broken the law are all made by the UK Government in London, but a lot of what happens to you if you’re in trouble with the police is decided here in Wales, and even by the Local Authority where you live. When the Welsh government works out how these laws should work in Wales it must think about your children’s rights.

In this part of the website, we explain your rights

We also look at how you keep your other rights (like your right to education, and your right to have your voice heard) while this is going on.

Sometimes, people say that they are ‘in trouble’ when things are difficult, or they are in a complicated situation and they need help to work out what to do next. This is different to being in trouble because you’ve broken the law or broken a rules – but it’s important that you know what your rights are. We’ve looked at this in other sections of this website.

If you’re ‘in trouble’ in a relationship – whether it’s with other children or young people, friends or with a boyfriend or girlfriend, check out the section on Relationships.

If you’re ‘in trouble’ because of a situation where you live  - may be something has happened to you at home and you can’t stay where you are, you can find out more in our section about your rights ‘At Home’.

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