The Rights of Children When Questioned or Arrested

The Rights of Children When Questioned or Arrested

Most of these rights are contained in the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002 (NSW).

  • Children have the same rights as adults when questioned or arrested, however they have additional protections:
    • parent/guardian must be notified if a child is taken into custody
    • Have the right to an independent adult as a support person during any police procedure, such as an interview or search.
    • Any statement taken from a person under 18 years of age is inadmissible in court unless there was an independent adult present.
    • Police must tell a child about his/her rights and assist the child to exercise those rights
    • Child under 10 may not be strip searched and a support person should be present for older children
    • Children should not be kept in the same cell as an adult
    • Police must not photograph or take fingerprints of children under 14 unless there is a court order
    • Police may not take bodily samples without a court order


  • Aims to provide alternatives to court proceedings
  • Allows police to issue warnings, cautions and arrange youth justice conferences
  • Affirms the rights of victims and tries to empower them through involvement in the system.
  • Aims to improve accessibility by reducing the time and cost involved in dealing with juvenile justice issues
  • Reduces the number of children being kept in detention centres


Extract from Legal Studies Stage 6 Syllabus. © 2009 Board of Studies NSW.