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.

Frequently Asked Questions

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.

A child under 10 who commits a criminal offense, will be treated differently to an adult or individual under the age of 18 but will be given either a Local Child Curfew or Child Safety Order.

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.