Staying out of trouble

  • You’re allowed to hang out with your friends and be out and about as long as you don’t break the law or make it difficult for other people to enjoy their rights
  • If you break the law, you may end up in trouble with the police
  • Your human rights are there to protect you from being treated badly if you do get into trouble with the police

How you exercise your rights and freedoms is limited by the need to respect the rights and freedoms of other people. If you’re behaving in a way that stops other people enjoying their rights, or in a way that might be breaking the law, you may find yourself in trouble with the police or other authorities. Even though you may get into trouble, your other human rights apply – so you can’t be treated differently and unfairly to anyone else, you should be given enough information to understand what is happening, and anything that happens to you has to be in your best interests. You shouldn’t be treated cruelly or disrespectfully, and you should have legal advice and help.

Can the police stop me in the street?

The police can stop you and ask you questions at any time. You don’t have to answer the questions, and if you don’t stop, you can’t be arrested just for not stopping.

They might ask you who you are, how old you are and where you are going.

The police might be worried about your safety, or they might be worried that you are going to cause trouble.

Can the police search me?

If the police think that you have something that has been stolen or that you aren’t supposed to have – like fireworks, or a knife, they can stop you and search you. The police have to think that they are going to find what they are looking for – they can’t just search you ‘just in case’.

The police can also search you if they think you are carrying drugs – but again, they have to have a reason to think you have got some drugs on you.

What can happen to me if I am behaving badly on the street?

If you are behaving anti-socially, you could end up with an injunction which can tell you do stop behaving in a particular way, and can also require you to do certain things. This is called an Injunction to Prevent Nuisance and Annoyance (IPNA). This has replaced the Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO).

Anti-social behaviour means anything that might be capable of causing a nuisance or annoyance. No one actually has to be upset or annoyed for you to end up with an IPNA. If you’re under 18, an application for an IPNA will be dealt with in the Youth Court. An IPNA can only last for 12 months if you’re under 18.

Lots of different organisations can apply for an IPNA against you, not just the police.

You can also get an IPNA to stop you behaving in a particular way at home, not just out in public places.

Can the police send me home?

If the police think you are causing trouble for people in a particular place, they can tell you to leave and not to come back to that place for up to 48 hours. If you are under 16 (or the police think you are under 16), they can take you home, or to another safe place.