What happens after arrest?

If you are a child or young person and are arrested, it can be a worrying time. We have broken down information below to help you understand the process.

If you are arrested you will normally be taken to a police station. If you are under 18 the police must try to contact your parents or carers.

If you are under 18 years of age you have the right to have an ‘appropriate adult’ with you at the police station. An appropriate adult must be over 18 years of age and could be a parent, carer, relative or social worker, youth worker etc.

If no one is available to act as your appropriate adult, in Nottinghamshire the police will arrange for someone from The Appropriate Adult Service to attend.

The police will interview you and this should always be done with your solicitor and an appropriate adult present. Your solicitor will speak with you before the interview and explain what is happening and will help you in the interview. If you don’t have a solicitor the police will arrange for a duty solicitor to attend.

The police will attempt to gather all information regarding the alleged offence to decide on what happens next. Their decision will be made on the basis of the evidence, the seriousness of the offence, if prosecution is in the public interest and the likelihood of getting a conviction.

For less serious crimes you could be released from police custody while further evidence is gathered and these decisions are made, or sometimes for more serious crimes you may be held until you can be taken to court.

This YouTube video which may help you understand what happens if you are arrested and taken to the police station.

For more information visit the government website; Being arrested: your rights


If you admit the offence, and the police decide that the offence is not serious, or there is other information which makes it less serious, you may have your case dealt with, without having to go to court. 

This means the police will deal with the matter without resorting to formal prosecution and you may be referred to the Youth Justice Service and an Out of Court Disposal Panel.

Prior to the panel a worker will meet with you, your parents or carers to talk about what has happened and find out about you and your circumstances. They will explore how we can help you stay out of trouble and what support you need to get the most out of your life. They will also gather information from any professionals you are working with, and complete an assessment which will be discussed at the panel.

At the panel there will be the Youth Justice Service, Nottinghamshire Police, a Restorative Justice Practitioner and other relevant agencies, including health and education. They will discuss the assessment, which will include what you have said about what happened, and a decision will be made about the most suitable disposal for you and your circumstances.

The different types of Out of Court Disposals which could be given are:

  • Community Resolution (with or without support)
  • Outcome 20
  • Outcome 21
  • Outcome 22
  • Youth Caution (with or without support)
  • Youth Conditional Caution

After the panel you will be told about your Out of Court Disposal outcome and the activities you will be expected to do.

If needed, a Youth Justice worker will arrange sessions for you so that you can complete the activities which you were told about. The point of these activities is to provide you with the right knowledge, skills and support to avoid you getting in trouble with the police again in the future.

These activities could focus on:

  • Education, employment and training – helping you get back into school; education, training or employment.
  • Drugs and alcohol work – helping you understand your substance use and how it affects your behaviour or offending.
  • Support from CAMHS (mental health)– help you with managing emotions and trauma.
  • Use of time – helping you develop a skill or get involved in something you are interested in.
  • Staying safe – helping you understand how to stay safe and supporting you to do so.
  • Increasing your understanding – looking at how what you have done effects other people and helping you repair the harm (Restorative Justice).
  • Knowledge and understanding – increasing your knowledge and understanding of the certain laws so you are less likely to get in trouble with the police in the future (e.g. laws around knives).
  • Reparation – workers can support you to make amends for any harm which was caused.

Youth out-of-court disposals: guide for police and YOTs

If you have to go to court this could be a stressful and difficult time.

Nottinghamshire Youth Justice Service is there to support you through the process. We will contact you, explain what is happening and offer you support whilst you are waiting for your court hearing to take place. If you are waiting for us to contact you and are in need of help or support please contact us: 0115 804 2888.

A Youth Court is a specialist court for children and young people. They are less formal than an adult court and are designed to make it easier for young people to know what is happening. Young people are called by their first names and the judge or magistrates will speak directly to the young person and may ask them questions.

If you are under 16 years old you must attend with a parent or carer. If you are 16 or 17 years old you may attend with a parent, carer or someone who can support you.

Most young people will go to the Youth Court unless they have been refused bail by the police and there is no youth court available, in which case they will be taken to the adult magistrates’ court for a decision on bail.

At the first appearance the court will usually ask if you are guilty or not guilty. The majority of cases will stay in the Youth Court; however, a young person jointly charged with an adult will go to the adult magistrates’ court and more serious cases may be sent to the Crown Court.

Watch the video below to understand what youth court looks like and what happens there:

Find out more

Criminal courts: Youth courts - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

How sentences are worked out - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Types of sentences for children and young people – Sentencing (sentencingcouncil.org.uk)

All contact between a young person and the police will be recorded on the police national computer (PNC). This information is only deleted when a person reaches 100 years old.

In some situations, you might need to tell people about your offence.

What is a Conviction and Out of Court Disposal and when are they ‘spent’?

A conviction means you have been sentenced in a court.

An Out of Court Disposal (there are several types) is given when someone admits an offence but was not dealt with in court, these are also called ‘out of court disposals’ or ‘diversionary disposals’.

Under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 people who have a convictions or cautions are considered to have been ‘rehabilitated’ after a certain period of time, the length of time is based on the type of sentence or caution that was given (not the offence type) and if they were a youth or adult at the time of sentencing. 

Find more information regarding criminal convictions and disclosure on TheinformationHub.

Please speak to your Youth Justice worker or see these websites for more information:

Spent Conviction

Disclosing criminal records to employers

Rehabilitation Periods

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