This factsheet explains some of the different things the police have the power to do. It looks at the police power to ‘stop and search’, and what happens when you are arrested. Although the police can use these powers on anyone, there are extra things they must do if you are under 18.
The powers the police have include power to:
- Stop you in the street, and ask you questions about what you are doing
- Stop you and search you
- Arrest you and interview you at a police station
- Charge you with a crime
You can find out more in our factsheet: Stopped, Arrested, Interviewed, Charged – A Guide for Under 18s
The police have been given these powers to help them in their jobs: to prevent crime and to catch people who have broken the law. Just because the police have these powers doesn’t mean they can do what they want or treat you without respect for your rights. The police must
• always be reasonable when they are doing something that they have the power to do,
• make sure they are not doing something to you because of discrimination or prejudice that they have.
The law also protects your civil liberties and your human rights and, if you’re under 18, the law in Wales protects your rights as a child. The police should always remember your civil liberties and your rights when they are using their powers.
You may find that the police don’t act in the way they are supposed to when they are using their powers, but you will only be able to do something about it after it has happened, when you can get legal advice from a solicitor.
If you think you have been treated badly by the police, you can make a complaint.
You can complain directly to the police force that’s involved. You will need to know whether the police force that has treated you badly is:
If you’d prefer not to complain directly to the police force, you can complain through the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) website.
Thanks to the Public Defender Service Swansea office for their support developing this information