Home Law International Handbook of Juvenile Justice
POLICING AND JUVENILES
The police are strongly involved with many crime prevention programmes for juveniles in schools and leisure centres, as well as with seminars for parents.
In criminal matters, the police have a strongly supportive function, particularly for the prosecutor in the pretrial stage; but they do not have the right to make decisions regarding criminal sanctions. They are responsible for the actual enforcement of an arrest or detention as well as for the questioning and interrogation of suspects and potential witnesses. Generally, detention by security officials is dealt with under the general rules of the Criminal Procedure Code (§§ 170 et seq.). Therefore, in most cases an arrest warrant issued by a judge is required. Only when the delay caused by obtaining a warrant, or at least a prosecutor’s request, would be prejudicial, police may act autonomously. Grounds for arrest or detention are risks of absconding, danger of recurrence, danger of influencing the procedure of taking evidence, or if the minor has been caught in the act or falls under suspicion within a very limited time after the offence has been committed.
Special evaluation of whether the arrest is suitable to the age of the suspect is required regarding minors and young adults (§§ 35 et seq. Juvenile Court Act; see details p. 230). In addition, there exists the obligation to inform either a legal guardian or relative who lives with the suspect if the suspect is not to be released immediately. If necessary, an already involved parole officer and a youth welfare officer must be informed as well. Minors and young adults have the right to have a trusted adult (including a legal guardian, or representative of parole) present throughout interrogation by organs of the security services and formal hearings of the security authorities. The suspect must be informed of this right in a timely manner. The interrogation or questioning must be delayed until the requested adult arrives, unless this is out of proportion with the punishable act. The principal reason for the presence of a trusted adult is to provide the minor with psychological support (though they may not ask questions or participate in the proceedings), since an arrest can cause considerable shock, particularly among minors. This may even lead to later misbehaviour and the ensuing grave consequences. Another reason for the presence of the trusted adult is that he plays the role of an independent monitor, whose presence leads to transparency of the conditions under which the interrogation takes place.
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