Crime and Young People
The act of committing a crime is very serious, this is also often known as committing an offense. There are punishments attached to committing a crime, which can involve you receiving a caution, going to court or going to prison.
What can happen to me if I’m caught committing a crime?
If the police believe you are carrying a weapon or illegal drugs, the police can stop and search you. If the police suspect you of committing a crime and you are over the age of 10 they can arrest you. This means you will be taken to a police station and the police will ask you questions about what happened. This means that children under 10 can’t be arrested or charged with a crime.
Once you've been questioned the police can let you go with a verbal warning, give you a caution, or arrange for you to be charged with a crime.
Young people aged 18 are treated as an adult by the law, however, if they’re sent to prison, they’ll be sent to a juvenile prison that holds 18 to 25-year-olds.
What happens during a stop and search by the police?
During a stop and search in public, only your outer clothing, pockets and bags can be searched.
Stay calm, if you feel angry, try to calm yourself down with deep breaths.
As a member of the public, you do have rights to ask questions if you’re unsure about things, you could ask a police officer and they should give you more information.
How are prison sentences worked out?
If you are found guilty of a crime, your sentence will depend on a number of factors, including the type, seriousness, and circumstances of the crime. When deciding on a sentence, the judge or magistrate will consider things like:
- your age
- the seriousness of the crime
- if you have a criminal record
- if you pleaded guilty or not guilty
If you have been affected by crime or want to talk to someone about something you saw or heard about and believe something wasn’t quite right, you can talk to the police.
If you need to report a crime immediately, please call 999 or 101.
The Victim's Code: U18s will help you understand what happens when telling the police about a crime, the support you can get, what happens if you needed to go to court and what it is to be a witness.
There are a number of prevention programmes that have been created to help young people stay away from a life of crime. Often, these are run within local communities and involve parents and families.
If a young person has been in trouble with the police, are at risk of committing a crime or are involved with anti-social behaviour, they will often be referred to as a crime prevention programme.
In Buckinghamshire, the Youth Offending Service (YOS) is a local multi-agency service consisting of Social Workers, Probation Officers, Police Officers and staff with health and education backgrounds. The Youth Offending Service (YOS) aims to prevent offending and re-offending by children and young people aged 10 to 18. Young people and their parents working with the YOS will be provided with relevant information via leaflets and documentation.
In Buckinghamshire, the Youth Offending Team contact is:
Youth Offending Service
PREVENT | Terrorism Prevention
Prevent is about safeguarding and supporting those vulnerable to radicalisation. Prevent is 1 of the 4 elements of the Government’s counter-terrorism strategy, CONTEST. It aims to stop people from becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism.
PREVENT does this by having local agencies like the police, schools and local authorities working together to:
- ensure individuals are given appropriate advice and support to prevent them from being drawn into terrorism
- work with sectors and institutions where there are risks of radicalisation which need to be addressed
- respond to the ideological challenges of terrorism and the threat we face from those who promote it
Radicalisation, Extremism and Terrorism Explained
- Radicalisation refers to the process by which a person comes to support terrorism and extremism leading to terrorism
- Extremism is defined by Government in the Prevent strategy as: Vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs. Also included in the definition of extremism are calls for the death of members of our armed forces
- Terrorism is defined by Government as “The use of violence in order to accomplish political, religious or social objectives”. Terrorism is a criminal act that influences an audience beyond the immediate victim. Its effectiveness is not in the act itself but the impact on Government and the public.
What is County Lines?
'County Lines’ is a term used when drug gangs from big cities expand their operations to smaller towns, often using violence to drive out local dealers and exploiting children and vulnerable people to sell drugs. Often these children are made to travel across counties, and they use dedicated mobile phone ‘lines’ to supply drugs.
In most instances, the users or customers will live in a different area to where the dealers and networks are based, so drug runners are needed to transport the drugs and collect payment.
A common feature in county lines drug supply is the exploitation of young and vulnerable people. The dealers will frequently target children and adults to act as drug runners or move cash so they can stay under the radar of law enforcement.
In some cases, the dealers will take over a local property, normally belonging to a vulnerable person, and use it to operate their criminal activity from. This is known as cuckooing.
Spotting the signs
There are several signs to look out for that may indicate someone is involved in County Lines:
- Returning home late, staying out all night or going missing
- Being found in areas away from home
- Increasing drug use, or being found to have large amounts of drugs on them
- Being secretive about who they are talking to and where they are going
- Unexplained absences from school, college, training or work
- Unexplained money, phone(s), clothes or jewellery
- Increasingly disruptive or aggressive behaviour
- Using sexual, drug-related or violent language you wouldn’t expect them to know
- Coming home with injuries or looking particularly dishevelled
- Having hotel cards or keys to unknown places
Advice and Support for Parents/Carers
If you suspect your child or a child that you know is being criminally exploited, it’s important to know that you are not alone and are not to blame. There are many other parents and carers who have faced similar situations and have received help to support their child.
Take these steps to help protect your child:
- Report your concerns to Children’s Social Care, a social worker can help you take steps to protect your child
- Contact your GP, child’s school, or Youth Worker.
- Contact the police, report your concerns to the police and say ‘I suspect my child is being trafficked for criminal exploitation’.
- Should your child be missing, report them straight away on 101. You do not have to wait 24 hours.
- If your child has train or bus tickets that you didn’t purchase or give them the money to do so, keep a record of this information to give to the police or social worker
- Keep a record where possible for any interactions on social media, unexplained money, clothing or gifts, change in behaviour that might reveal exploitation.
The Children’s Society has put together a podcast on child criminal exploitation and 'county lines'.
Advice for Young People and Children
If you are worried that you might be talking or be involved with someone who is dangerous, it’s important to ask an adult for help.
Find an adult that you can trust and that you feel safe with, this could be someone you are close to or that you know can help you. An example could be:
- A parent, carer, or someone else in your family
- A friend’s parent or carer, or a neighbour
- A teacher, sports coach or a member of staff at your school
- A doctor, school nurse or a school counsellor
- A religious leader, for example, a priest, imam or rabbi.
What is online child abuse?
Online abuse is any type of abuse that happens on the internet, whether through social networks, online gaming or mobile phones. It can take many forms, from young people being persuaded to share sexually explicit images of themselves, to being threatened, intimidated and harassed via the internet.
Any child or young person that uses the internet or has a smartphone could be a victim of online abuse regardless of their age, gender or background. That’s why it is really important that we all understand the signs to look out for that could indicate a child is being abused.
Signs of online child abuse
The signs aren’t always obvious but there are some you can look out for, for example:
- Spending more time than usual online or on their phone
- Being secretive about what they’re doing or who they’re talking to
- Hiding computer screens or taking phone calls in rooms away from other people
- Engaging less with family and usual friends
- Sudden personality changes or severe mood swings
- Having new things like phones or clothes that they can’t explain
How to keep children safe online
The internet plays a big part in most of our lives so it’s important we all understand the risks associated with being online as well as taking simple steps to help keep children safe:
- Understand the types of social media available to children and young people
- Know what your child is doing online and talk to them about it
- Set up and manage parental controls on all your family’s devices
- Reassure your child that they can talk to you about anything that is worrying them
Suspect it. Report it.
If you believe a child you know could be a victim of online abuse tell someone.
Contact the police on 101, or 999 if you believe they are at immediate risk from harm.
Alternatively, you can contact the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000 for help and support.
For more information visit Online child abuse (Thames Valley Police)
What is Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)?
Also known as female circumcision refers to procedures that intentionally alter or cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. The practice is illegal in the UK.
It has been estimated that over 65,000 girls under the age of 15 are at risk of FGM in the UK each year, and that 66,000 women in the UK are living with the consequences of FGM. However, the true extent is unknown, due to the "hidden" nature of the crime.
How and when is FGM carried out?
FGM is usually carried out on young girls between infancy and the age of 15, most commonly before puberty starts. The girls may be taken to their countries of origin so that FGM can be carried out during the summer holidays, allowing them time to "heal" before they return to school. There are also worries that some girls may have FGM performed in the UK. More information on FGM can be found via The NSPCC Website including videos and survivors stories.
If you are concerned that a girl is at risk of FGM contact the FIRST RESPONSE TEAM as soon as possible. If there is an immediate threat or danger called the police on: 999.
First Response Team:
- Telephone: 01296 383 962
- Out of Hours emergency number: 0800 999 76 77
- Email: email@example.com
What is Hate Crime?
A Hate Crime or Incident is any behaviour that someone thinks was caused by hostility, prejudice or hatred of:
Disability, Gender Identity, Race, Skin Colour, Nationality, Ethnicity or Heritage, Religion, Faith or Belief or Sexual Orientation.
What Can Hate Crime Include?
- Name-calling or verbal abuse
- Damage to property
- Physical attacks or violence, including sexual violence
- Threats or intimidation
- Bullying or harassment
- Setting fire to things (arson)
Reporting Hate Crime
If you experience a Hate Crime, or know someone who has, always make sure that you are all safe and report what has happened straight away.
Call Thames Valley Police
- Phone in a non-emergency: 101
- Phone in an emergency: 999
- Report online: (Thames Valley Police)
Contact Victim Support
- Free supportline: 0808 1689 111
- Online Contact Form (Victim Support)
- You can also contact your local Victim Support (Buckinghamshire) on 0808 168 9274.
Stalking is generally ongoing attention that is unwanted which makes the person being stalked feel pestered; a common example is being followed. Stalking and harassment encompass behaviours that occur two or more times which cause a person to feel fearful or uncomfortable.
Stalkers will often use multiple and differing methods to harass their victims. Stalking can consist of any type of behaviour such as regularly sending flowers or gifts, making unwanted or malicious communication, damaging property and physical or sexual assault. If the behaviour is persistent and clearly unwanted causing you fear, harassment or anxiety then it is stalking and you should not have to live with it.
How do I know or prove I am being stalked or harassed?
Here is a handy checklist of questions to ask yourself to help determine if you are being stalked or harassed. It is a good idea to record your answers and hand this to the police should you need to report this behaviour.
Support for victims of Stalking or Harassment
- Phone: 0808 802 0300
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Call 999 if you or someone else is in immediate danger.
Hidden Harm is a campaign by Thames Valley Police that aims to raise awareness of abuse happening in the heart of communities across Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, and Oxfordshire.
Hidden Harm is the undetected and unreported abuse of a person or people. Abuse can happen in lots of ways, it doesn’t have to be physical. People can also be abused emotionally, psychologically and financially. This abuse can include:
- Modern slavery
- Online child abuse
- Honour based abuse
- Domestic abuse
- Hate crime
The message of the campaign is simple – Open your eyes to abuse. It could be happening in your community so if you suspect it, report it.
We all have a role to play in keeping people safe from harm. Information we receive from members of the public is vital to ensuring we identify these crimes, protect victims and bring offenders to justice.
For advice on what to do and how to get help if you’ve been a victim of crime visit the Victims First website.
If you are looking for advice or support in relation to Crime, Imprisonment, Terrorism, Exploitation or Extremism, please contact one of these support services.