The Law

This section of the website is focused on the law in the UK, it covers:


  • Some basics on how the law works

  • What can happen if you are ever in trouble with the law

  • Your rights

Get started below.


The Law


There are laws in every country to protect the people that live there and the thing that they own.


It is best to stay on the right side of the law because if not you may end up having to pay money to someone or even worse you could end up in prison. If you have a criminal record it can prevent you from getting certain types of jobs. So although it might not affect you now it could be a problem for you in the future.


There are basically two types of law:


Criminal Law - this relates to crimes committed. The cases are investigated by the police.  You may be issued with a fine for certain crimes but other crimes you can be taken to court.  This could be the magistrates’ court or the crown court depending on how bad the crime was that was committed.  You may be able to get legal aid to help you fight the case if you don’t have any money.


Civil Law - this is most other types of legal problems.  Examples of this type of law are things like having a mobile phone contract.  If you don’t pay your phone bill the phone company can take you to court to pay it.  Or if your employer doesn't pay you your wages you can take your employer to court for not paying. If you can’t agree with the other person the case may end up in the small claims court or the county court.  Usually, the punishment is to pay money.


How Laws are Made


The Government of this country makes and passes laws, which people living and visiting this country must obey.  Some of these laws were passed a very long time ago and new laws are passed every year.  


Some law is set by presidents.  This means that if something has happened for a while it will be considered to be a rule.  So for example, if you have not been given a contract of employment but you usually start work at 9 am.  It will be considered a rule that you start work at 9 am.


Where to turn if you have problems with the law?


Citizens Advice - they are able to provide you with free legal advice on most matters.  If they can’t help you they will tell you where you can get help. They are based in most towns.  Usually, you can walk in to get an appointment but you may need to phone to get advice or you can send them an email.  Look online to find the nearest office.

Their website also has lots of useful information.


Essex Law Clinic - based at the University of Essex in Colchester - they give free virtual advice to anyone living in Essex.


Anglia Law Clinic Chelmsford - based at the Anglia Ruskin University they give free virtual advice to anyone.


ACAS - you can get free legal advice on employment matters from ACAS.  You can phone 0333 123 1100 or their website has lots of useful information.


Shelter - this is a charity that can provide you with free housing advice.  Their website has a lot of useful information and you can contact them by their chat service or phone in an emergency


Gingerbread - can provide free advice to single parents on family matters.


Trade Unions - if you work and are a member of a trade union they will usually provide free legal advice.  Contact your trade union for further information.


Further information about Crime Justice and the Law can be found here


Criminal Law


The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) provides strict rules which the police must follow when interacting with the public.  It covers lots of situations including stop and search, arrest and detention in a police station.  The rules are for adults and also children (sometimes called juveniles or minors). In England, for this act you are considered a juvenile if you are 17 or under. 


If you are arrested


If you’re arrested you will usually be taken to a police station, held in custody in a cell and then questioned.


You will be searched and your possessions will be kept by the police custody officer whilst you are in the cell.


A couple of key things to be remembered if you are arrested you have the right to:


  • Get free legal advice

  • Tell someone where you are

  • Have medical help if you are feeling ill

  • See the rules the police must follow (PACE)

  • See a written notice telling you about your rights eg regular breaks for food and to use the toilet 


Young people under 18 (Juveniles)


The police must try to contact your parent, guardian or carer.  They must also find an ‘appropriate adult’ to come to the police station to help you and be present during the questioning and searching. An appropriate adult can be:


  • Your parent, guardian or care

  • A social worker

  • Another family member or friend aged 18 or over

  • A volunteer aged 18 or over


If you are arrested you should get as much help/assistance as possible before speaking to the police.


Stop and Search


The Police can stop and question you at any time - they can search you depending on the situation. You don’t have to stop or answer any of the questions.


A Police officer can stop and search you if they have ‘reasonable grounds’ to suspect you’re carrying:


  • Illegal drugs

  • A weapon

  • Stolen property

  • Something which could be used to commit a crime, for example, a crowbar


You can only be stopped and searched without reasonable grounds if it has been approved by a senior police officer.


Before you are searched the police officer must tell you:


  • Their name and police station

  • What they expect to find, for example, drugs

  • The reason they want to search you

  • Why they are legally allowed to search you

  • That you can have a record of the search


Claim compensation if you were a victim of a violent crime


You might be able to claim compensation if you were the victim of a violent crime from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). This includes if:

  • You were injured

  • A close relative died

  • You saw the crime happen to a loved one (or were there immediately afterwards)

  • You paid for the funeral of a person who died

You usually have to claim within 2 years of the crime. The crime must be reported to the police before you apply.

You should try and get help to make a claim.  The following can help you claim:

Victim Support

Citizens Advice

Ministry of Justice


A complaint about the Police


If you are unhappy about the way you have been treated by the police you can make a complaint.  There is an independent organisation that has been set up to look at and investigates complaints about the police. 


You can find further details on their website about how to make a complaint.  You should also try and get some advice about the wording to make a complaint.  Citizens Advice will be able to help you.


This is the link to the Independent Office for Police Conduct website:


Other useful laws


Consumer Rights Act 2015 - all products must be of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose and as described.  This is useful if you buy something that is faulty and you want to get a replacement or your money back.