Help When a Child Has been Arrested

Description:
  1. Who Classifies as a Child?
  2. What are the Rights of Children Who are Arrested?
  3. What Can a Parent/Guardian Do to Help a Child Who Has been Arrested?
  4. What Can I Do if My Child is being Treated Inappropriately?
  5. Where Can I Find out More about the Child Justice Bill?

1. WHO CLASSIFIES AS A CHILD?

A child is anyone under the age of 18 years.

 

2. WHAT ARE THE RIGHTS OF CHILDREN WHO ARE ARRESTED?

Children who are arrested are not supposed to be treated in the same way as adults, and have certain rights guaranteed to them in terms of the Criminal Procedure Act. These include:

 

  1. The right to have their parents/guardians present - A child's parents or legal guardians are supposed to be notified by the police of the arrest as soon as possible.
  2. The right to a speedy assessment - A child is supposed to be assessed by a probation officer, who is a trained social worker, within 48 hours of arrest.
Instructions:

3. WHAT CAN A PARENT/GUARDIAN DO TO HELP A CHILD WHO HAS BEEN ARRESTED?

Your involvement in the child's case at this stage can have a considerable impact on the long-term consequences for the child. You can do the following to help speed up the judicial process and, hopefully, keep the child out of prison:

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Make sure that a probation officer sees the child as soon as possible
    Probation officers are stationed at magistrates' courts and police stations, and often have to travel around between them. If there is no probation officer around, ask the police to check when and where probation services will be available again (all stations have been given a list of probation officers to call for this information).
  2. Be there when the probation officer assesses the child
    During the assessment, the probation officer looks at all the circumstances in the child's life, including general living conditions and the details of the crime the child is supposed to have committed.

     

    Your presence could have a significant impact on the probation officer's decision to recommend that the child be diverted or placed under home-based supervision rather than prosecuted.

     

  3. Be there for the preliminary inquiry
    At present, the probation officer makes a recommendation to the prosecutor, and together they decide whether the child should be diverted or prosecuted.

     

    However, as soon as the Child Justice Bill is passed the probation officer will make a recommendation directly to a magistrate at a preliminary inquiry, where the decision will be made to divert or prosecute and, if prosecution is likely, whether the child should be released to the parents' care or taken to a Place of Safety (secure care) before the trial.

  4. Be there if the child goes on trial
    Again, your presence here can have a difference on the outcome of the trial.

 

4. WHAT CAN I DO IF MY CHILD IS BEING TREATED INAPPROPRIATELY?

Children awaiting trial should be kept in places of safety (secure care) rather than in prison.

 

If you are worried that a child is being held in prison for too long or treated inappropriately, you can report this to the Child Justice Forum, which is supposed to monitor all young people who are in conflict with the law. The Child Justice Forum will investigate the case.

5. WHERE CAN I FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE CHILD JUSTICE BILL?

Click here to download the full Child Justice Bill in pdf format.

 

For updates on the status of the Bill go to the website of the Child Justice Alliance, a group of NGOs involved in reform of the law for children.

Provided by:
Government Body: (Western Cape Government)
The content on this page was last updated on 28 September 2017