Your Rights and the Law

A lot of your rights as laid out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) are also laws in Scotland. At the moment, Scottish Government are currently working to incorporate the UNCRC into Scots Law, which you can hear more about from the Children and Young People’s Commissioner.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) sets out the rights every child is entitled to. Scotland is to introduce legislation that provides legal protections of these rights in Scots Law.  

Law are intended to protect you and uphold your rights, but they also place limits on what you can do for your own protection on that of others. 

Understanding the law can seem complicated but there is information out there to help you. You can take a look at some common questions about how the law affects you, get in touch with Young Scot’s Lawline, the Scottish Child Law Centre, or Clan Childlaw for free legal advice and information about the law. 

If you are new to Scotland, you can read this guide to Scots Law created by young people. It is available in variety of languages. 

Being the victim of a crime 

A victim of a crime is when you have been impacted by a crime, for example you physical, emotional or mental harm or have suffered economic (for example, monetary) loss because a crime has been committed. 

If you have been the victim of a crime, call Police Scotland on 101 to report it. In an emergency or if a crime is happening right now, call 999.

Scottish Government have some information on support for victims of crime which you can access even if you haven’t reported the crime to the police. Victim Support Scotland provide support and advice about a range of crimes. 

You have rights as a victim of crime, which are set out in the Victims’ Code for Scotland. To find out what happens when you report a crime, read Police Scotland’s blog for more information. 

If your mental or physical health has been affected by a crime, then you may be eligible for criminal injury compensation, which Clan Childlaw explain in more detail. 

If you’ve experience sexual assault or abuse, there are special services for you to get support, like Rape Crisis Scotland and the Survivor’s Trust. There's more information about what support is available on our That's Not OK page.

If you have information about a crime, you can report what you know to the police or anonymously via Crimestoppers or Fearless.

Committing a crime

If you have committed a crime and been arrested, find out what happens next and what to expect. The Centre for Youth and Criminal Justice have a great site you can use to walk through the youth justice system and see what happens each step of the way. 

In Scotland, when you are under 18 and are suspected of committing a crime, the police will usually refer your case to the Children’s Reporter, a person who decides whether you should go to a Children’s Hearing. The Children’s Reporter will work with someone called the Procurator Fiscal. The Procurator Fiscal is a legal department who look at the evidence for a crime and decides what to do next. 

If they decide to take your case forward, it is likely you will be asked to attend a Children’s Hearing, where decisions will be made about your case. The Scottish Children’s Reporter has more information about the Children’s Hearing process and your rights.  

If you are convicted of a crime, read about how your conviction could impact on your life. 

If you have a family member in prison, then Families Outside provide support and resources for young people. 

Complaining about the police 

If you feel you have been treated badly by the police you can complain to Police Scotland about what happened. You should get the name and collar number of the officer you are complaining about, which should be displayed on their shoulder. Citizen’s Advice Scotland take you through the complaints process in more detail. 

Police Scotland have more information on your rights when police speak to you. You can find out more about stop and search powers from the No Knives, Better Lives campaign. 

Visit the Activate Your Rights homepage to find out more about your rights.