Reprimands and final warnings

If a child or young person is arrested and accepts responsibility for a minor offence and it is the first time they have committed an offence, they are likely to be given a reprimand or a final warning.

Reprimands and final warnings can only be given to children and young people who have admitted that they have broken the law, at which point they can be offered support from the Tower Hamlets youth offending team. If the child or young person denies the allegation against them they will be sent to court and prosecuted.

Reprimands

If a child or young person is given a reprimand, a police officer will talk to them about what they have done and will explain what will happen to them if they break the law again. The police officer will remind the child or young person that by breaking the law they have hurt their victim and their own family.

The police will keep a record of the crime and the details will be passed on to the youth offending team who will decide if further action should be taken. The youth offending team does not have any responsibility for a child or young person who is given a reprimand, but does write to parents to make them aware of the resources and services available to support them and the child or young person.

Final warnings

Final warnings were introduced to encourage young people to take responsibility for their criminal actions and to try to prevent them from committing further offences. Final warnings have replaced the old system of police cautions for young people.

Final warnings aim to:

  • prevent young people re-offending by ensuring that the young person is made aware of the consequences and impact of their criminal activity
  • allow the offender to take into account the wishes and feelings of the victims of their crimes
  • find out the circumstances for the offence and take steps to address the factors that might encourage a young person to re-offend

If a child or young person is to be given a final warning, the police will bail them and they will be seen by the youth offending team. One of the team's police officers will also contact the child’s parents to arrange an interview to plan any voluntary action that can be taken to help ensure the child abides by the law in the future. In most cases, the team will decide what type of intervention the child needs to stop them committing any more crimes. This is the child or young person’s last chance to prevent an appearance in the youth court, and the team will support the parents and the child as much as possible.

How parents and guardians can help

To help the child or young person as much as possible, parents and guardians need to:

  • attend all meetings along with the child or young person
  • encourage the child or young person to fully appreciate the consequences of their offences and behaviour
  • ensure that the child or young person successfully completes the scheme or activities assigned to them

Prosecution

Reprimands and final warnings can only be given to children and young people who have admitted that they have broken the law. If the child or young person is alleged to have committed an offence, but does not admit to it, they cannot be given a reprimand or a final warning. In these cases, the child or young person will be sent to court and prosecuted.

In cases where a young person or a child has received a final warning, they will go to court if they are arrested for a further offence within two years of the one for which they were given the final warning.

Prosecution means the case will be heard in the youth court. If the court finds the child or young person guilty, they will be sentenced and will have a criminal record. In these cases, the youth offending team will prepare a report outlining the offence and young person’s circumstances, and proposing a suitable sentence.

The youth offending team will contact the parents to arrange an interview to carefully explain the process and provide any information and advice that might be needed. This is only done when the child or young person’s sentence requires the involvement of the Tower Hamlets youth offending team.

Further information

If you are concerned that your child is being victimised, is a victim of youth crime or has become involved in the early stages of the youth justice system, you can contact the Tower Hamlets witness and victim support scheme for advice and support:

Tel: 020 8981 8421

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