You & the Law

You & The Law

The law is set of rules that have been created to make it clear to everyone exactly what rights you have and what your responsibilities are.

This section includes information on the Crime & Disorder Act and how Norfolk Police is using RJ in dealing with crime.

You can also find out about the law in the following areas:

  • Alcohol
  • Anti-Social Behaviour
  • Assault
  • Criminal damage
  • Drugs
  • Offensive weapons
  • Stop & Search
  • Theft & Shoplifting
  • Young drivers
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To drive a car as a learner you must:

  • Be at least 17 years old
  • Have applied for and received your Provisional Licence
  • Have someone in the car to supervise you. The person supervising you must be at least 21 years old and have held a full driving licence for the type of vehicle you are driving (i.e. car) for a least 3 years
  • Have a vehicle which is taxed / insured / roadworthy
  • Display L plates at all times while you are driving the vehicle.

Learner drivers are not permitted to drive on motorways.

You can apply for a provisional licence three months before your 17th birthday, but it does not come into effect until you are 17.

You can learn to drive a car at 16 if you are receiving Disability Living Allowance at the higher rate. If this is the case you can apply for your provisional licence three months before your 16th birthday, but it does not come into effect until you are 16.

If you already have a provisional licence for a moped or agricultural vehicle you do not need to apply again for a provisional licence to drive a car when you reach 17.

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Mopeds & Motorcycles
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Are you aware of the law around riding a moped or motorcycle?

Riding a moped

To ride a moped as a learner you must:

  • Be at least 16 years old
  • Have applied for and received your Provisional Licence
  • Have completed a Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) course
  • Have a vehicle which is taxed / insured / roadworthy.

Before completing the CBT you may only ride on a road under the supervision of an approved instructor as part of the CBT course.

You can apply for a provisional licence 3 months before your 16th birthday, but it does not come into effect until you are 16.

Riding a motorcycle

If you have a provisional motorcycle licence you must complete a CBT. This means that you can then ride on the road with L plates for up to 2 years, or D plates in Wales.

To obtain a full motorcycle licence you must pass a motorcycle theory test and a practical test.

If you have a full car licence and you passed your test after 01 Feb 2001 then you must;

  • take a CBT test and obtain a DL 196 certificate in order to ride a moped
  • You must be 17 years old
  • You may ride motorcycles up to 125cc and 11kw output displaying L plates (D plates in Wales) but you must have passed a CBT course.

Completing a CBT

If you successfully complete a CBT course you will get a training certificate (DL196). You can find Motorcycle Training centres by looking in a directory like Yell or Thomson local, or asking at your local motorcycle shop.

The certificate is valid for two years and allows you to take your moped on the road.

When you go on to take your practical test you will need to show the examiner your training certificate.

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Young Drivers
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Any vehicle driven on public roads must be insured

The rules of the Highway Code apply to all road users: pedestrians, horse riders and cyclists as well as motorcyclists and drivers. It's a good place to start if you want to find out about your rights and responsibilities on the road.

Find out more about what you need before you can ride or drive one of the following:

  • Mopeds
  • Cars
  • Agricultural Vehicles/ Mini buses and larger vehicles


If you get stopped by the police that you might have to 'produce your documents'. What does this mean? 

There are certain documents that you must have which show that you and your vehicle have the right to be on a public road. 

Driving Licence
You must have applied for and received your provisional driving licence before you start learning to drive a car. You must have applied for and received your full driving licence before you start driving alone.

MOT Certificate

MOT tests are designed to check that a vehicle comes up to basic road safety standards and basic environmental standards.

Once a vehicle is three years old it will need to have an MOT test every year. When a vehicle passes its MOT test the tester will provide the car with a certificate.

Insurance Certificate

Any vehicle driven on public roads must be insured. There are different types of insurance for vehicles and you should always check details and shop around before you buy your insurance.

At very least you should be insured so that if you are involved in an accident where someone else is hurt or their property is damaged, they can claim from your insurance company.

You should check your insurance covers you for every vehicle you intend to drive including your friends and family’s cars.


Your vehicle should also be taxed. This can be done online.

What if I cannot produce my documents?

If a police officer reasonably believes that you are driving without a valid driving licence or without valid insurance, they have the power to seize your vehicle.

To get it back you would have to produce valid documents at a police station and you may have to pay a fee to get your car back.

Driving without the right licence and paperwork may also be a criminal offence for which you may receive a fixed penalty notice or a summons to court to answer charges.

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Theft & Shoplifting
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hoplifting is stealing and there can be heavy penalties for it

There is no typical shoplifter. People who steal from stores can be any age, race, gender and social and economic background.

Peer pressure is one of the reasons why people shoplift.

Shoplifters generally fall into two categories:

  • Professional shoplifters
  • Amateur or casual shoplifters.

Professional shoplifter

Professional shoplifters are people who usually take expensive items, like memory cards that they can re-sell easily.

They may even steal ‘to order’.

Most shoplifters are amateur or casual who don’t usually go into a store with the intention of stealing.

They simply see the opportunity to take something and do, but shoplifting is stealing and you could be arrested and charged.


Getting caught 

Getting caught shoplifting can be a lot more serious than people may think. Some of the things that can happen to shoplifters are:

  • They may be arrested and paraded through a store full of customers
  • They may face charges for theft
  • They may be banned from stores or shopping centres
  • Their parents will be called.

People who have been arrested for shoplifting – especially if it’s more than once, may end up with a criminal record.

This can make it harder to get a job.

Lots of teenagers find out the hard way that stores take shoplifting very seriously.

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Stopped by the police
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A police officer could ask what you are carrying if you were stopped

Police sometimes have to stop people and ask them to account for their actions or their presence in an area. This is referred to as Stop and Account.

Police also may need to carry out a search of that individual’s clothing or property. This is referred to as Stop and Search.

Both these powers are used by police in order to detect and prevent crime and keep our communities safer.

We want to be open, honest and accountable, and so a record is always issued to the person involved explaining why a stop or a search was carried out.

This section aims to help you understand stop and search procedures, the type of behaviour you should expect from the police and in return, what the police expect from you.

Who can stop you?

  • a police officer; or
  • a police community support officer.

A police community support officer must be in uniform. A police officer does not have to be in uniform, but if they are not wearing uniform they must show you their identity (warrant) card.

You should not be stopped or searched just because of:

  • your age, race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, religion or faith
  • the way you look or dress, the language you speak
  • because you have committed a crime in the past.

If you believe this is why you were stopped or searched, you can complain.

What is a stop?

A 'stop' is when a police officer or police community support officer stops you and asks you to account for yourself. That is, if they ask you to tell them:

  • what you are doing
  • why you are in an area or where you are going
  • what you are carrying.

The officer must fill in a form saying why you were stopped and give you a copy.

Not every time a police officer or police community support officer talks to you will count as a stop. For example, if the officer:

  • is looking for witnesses
  • asks you for general information about an incident
  • is giving you directions.

This does not count as a stop and the officer would not normally fill in a form. But even in this case if you want to you can ask for a form and the officer must fill one out and give it to you.

Your right to a form

If you are stopped or searched the officer must fill in a form and give it to you straightaway unless, for example, they are called away to an emergency. In this case you can get a copy from a police station anytime within 12 months.

The officer must write down:

  • your name or a description of you (only if you are searched)
  • your self-defined ethnic background
  • when and where you were stopped or searched
  • why you were stopped or searched
  • if they are taking any action
  • the names and/or numbers of the officers
  • if you were searched, what they were looking for and anything they found.

The police will ask you for your name, address and date of birth. You do nothave to give this information if you do not want to, unless the police say they are reporting you for an offence. If this is the case you could be arrested if you don't tell them.

You will also be asked to say what your ethnic background is from a list of the national census categories which the officer will show to you. You do not have to say what it is if you don't want to. But this information is used to show if the police are stopping or searching people just because of their race or ethnicity.

How can I complain?

The police should treat you fairly and with respect. If you are unhappy with how you were treated, you can complain. If you feel you were treated differently because of your race, age, sexuality, gender, disability, religion or faith, you can complain of unlawful discrimination.

It will help if you keep the form that the police gave you.

You can get advice from, or complain to:

  • Norfolk Constabulary at a police station or ring 0845 456 4567
  • Norfolk Police Authority on 01953 424455
  • a Citizen's Advice Bureau
  • your local Race Equality Council
  • the Independent Office for Police Conduct
  • the Commission for Racial Equality
  • a solicitor.

If you have difficulty understanding English, or if you are deaf, then the police must take reasonable steps to ensure that you understand your rights.

Please note: This is a guide to the Stop and Search and Stop and Account procedures. It does not cover all of the law.

What is a stop and search?

This is when a police officer stops you and searches you, your clothes and anything you are carrying.

Only a police officer (not a police community support officer) can search you.

You can only be stopped and searched if a police officer has good reason to suspect you are carrying:

  • drugs, weapons or stolen property
  • items which could be used:
    • to commit a crime
    • to commit an act of terrorism
    •  to cause criminal damage.

This good reason should be based on facts, information or intelligence or could be because of the way you are behaving.

There are times however when police officers can search anyone within a certain area, for example:

  • when there is evidence that serious violence could take place there
  • where a terrorist threat has been identified.

But the officer should explain this to you and must be searching for items which could be used in connection with violence or terrorism.

Where can I be stopped and searched?

  • in a public place
  • anywhere if the police believe you have committed a crime.

If you are in a public place, you only have to take off your coat or jacket and your gloves, unless you have been stopped in relation to terrorism or where the officer believes you are using clothes to hide your identity.

If the police officer asks you to take off more than this or anything you wear for religious reasons, such as a face scarf, veil or turban, they must take you somewhere out of public view. This does not mean you are being arrested. In this case, the police officer who searches you must be the same sex as you.

What if I am in a vehicle?

Your vehicle can be stopped at any time and you may be asked to show your driving documents, such as your licence.

The police can search your vehicle if they have good reason to think it contains:

  • stolen goods
  • drugs
  • weapons.

They can search your vehicle at anytime, even if you are not there but must leave a notice saying what they have done.

If the search causes damage to your car, you can ask for compensation but only if the police didn't find anything to connect you to a crime.

What happens if I am stopped and searched?

Before you are searched, the police officer should tell you:

  • that you must wait to be searched
  • what law they are using and your rights
  • their name
  • the station they work at
  • why they chose you
  • what they are looking for
  • that you have a right to be given a form straightaway showing details of the stop and search.

What is 'Stop and account'?

‘Stop and account’ is when an officer stops you and asks you:

  • what you are doing
  • why you are in an area or where you are going
  • what you are carrying.

A police officer or police community support officer (PCSO) does not have the power to force you to stay with them if you are stopped and asked for your actions.

Who can carry out a ‘stop and account’?

  • a police officer
  • a PCSO.

A PCSO must be in uniform but a police officer does not have to be. They must show you their identity card if not in uniform.

What is recorded and your right to a receipt

If you are stopped the officer will only record using their Airwave Radio your self-defined ethnicity and the date and time of the Stop and Account.

You will be given a Customer Contact Card showing the date and time you were stopped, and the officer’s name and details. This is only necessary if practicable for the officer and if the customer wishes to wait.

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Offensive Weapons
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Knives are part of everyday lives, in the wrong hands they can be very dangerous

If you asked the people around you what type of crime they rate as the most serious, you would get many different replies. However, amongst those replies, it is very likely that violent crime would top the list.

Knife Crime

Knives are a part of our everyday lives – but in the wrong hands, used for the wrong things, they can be very dangerous.

To make sure that knives are used sensibly we have laws.

Did you know that...

  • It is against the law to be in possession of an offensive weapon (including knives with blades over 7.62cm long) in a public place
  • It is against the law to carry a blade / sharp point or offensive weapon in school
  • Police have the power to come into school and search people and places if they think knife laws are being broken
  • These laws apply at any time – not just during school hours.

Gun Crime

In an effort to prevent violent crimes, we have had a ‘gun law’ called the Firearms Act since 1968. Recently the laws dealing with guns were extended under the Antisocial Behaviour Act 2003 and the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006.

Guns and the Law

You are breaking the law if you carry any of the following items, without lawful authority or reasonable excuse, in a public place:

  • A loaded shotgun
  • An air weapon (loaded or unloaded), to own, buy or be sold
  • Any other firearm (loaded or not) together with ammunition for it. If you get caught with any of the guns mentioned you could be arrested and serve up to six months in prison
  • An imitation firearm. An imitation firearm could be anything from a BB gun, to a replica gun, to your little brother’s toy gun.

If you threaten anyone with a gun, or are seen with one, real or not, and the police are called, you will be faced with a specially trained Armed Response Unit.

If you refuse, when asked, to surrender your weapon, the armed officers may have to use force.

The police will try to avoid shooting but if you are seen as a danger to others, waving what appears to be a gun around, or aiming it, they may have no choice. You could be shot.

  • Possession of an offensive weapon (including knives) in a public place is an arrestable offence
  • Possession of any blade/sharp point or offensive weapon on school premises is an arrestable offence
  • Police officers have the power to enter and search the school premises and anyone on the premises if they believe that this offence has been, or is being committed.
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You can be charged with possession with intent to supply drugs

If a police officer has a reason to suspect you are carrying an illegal drug they have the right to make you empty your pockets.

If the police officer finds that you do have drugs, you could be charged with one of two offences:



Being charged with possession means that you have been caught with an illegal drug which police believe is for your personal use, and means that the police;

  • Can tell your parents or carer
  • Might refer you to your local Youth Offender Team (YOT)
  • Might also inform Children’s Services.

The police will deal with you in one of the following ways:

A Reprimand is put on local police files. If you offend again police may decide to charge you, rather than caution you.

A final warning
A central police record held for 5 years. If you offend again, this can be used against you.

To charge you with an offence leading to a youth court hearing (this is more likely for repeat offenders, who may end up with a fine or a custodial sentence).


Possession with intent to supply drugs

Being charged with Possession with Intent to Supply Drugs means that police believe that you had the intention of dealing (this includes selling, trading, giving or sharing drugs with others).

Decisions over whether you're charged with Intent to Supply are based on the circumstances in which you were caught and the quantity of drugs you were caught with.

The police can take the same course of action as in simple possession cases, but this time you're more likely to be charged. If your case goes to court the penalties are likely to be heavier.


The Misuse of Drugs Act divides drugs into three classes and gives guidelines for penalties:

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Criminal Damage
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Vandalising bus shelters, throwing eggs at cars, bricks through windows, forcing entry into a house are all examples of criminal damage.

Graffiti can also be illegal unless the owner of the building has given permission for the areas to be used to practice graffiti art on.

Graffiti is an offence of criminal damage and if prosecuted the offender could face a fine or even imprisonment.

It could also affect the value or the lives of those in the neighbourhood. For example if someone was to have graffiti put on to the wall of their house, it could make the owner feel nervous, as if they are being targeted deliberately, it could also affect the property if they were trying to sell it.

Did you know :

  • Under 16's are not permitted to buy aerosol paint cans
  • Local authorities can issue fixed penalty notices for offences of graffiti
  • Local authorities are responsible for cleaning it up from public buildings and fixtures. They can also clean it from private buildings and can bill the owner for the work
  • Graffiti should be initially reported to the local authority.
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Don't use your fist to get your message across. 

Disagreements and arguments are a part of life. Nobody goes all the way through their life without having a few ‘fall outs’ or getting angry. We run into trouble if we let our tempers get the better of us, and use our fists to get our message across.

If you are ever tempted to lose your temper, take a moment to ‘re-play’ the facts below:

1. Physically hurting another person is against the law. It is called an assault

2. Even a ‘minor’ fight can lead to a serious assault

3. Being young is no excuse under the law. If a young person assaults someone – they can be prosecuted

4. Punishments for young people range from a ‘reprimand’ at a police station – to being taken to court. Courts can take away young people’s freedom

5. We have many laws to protect young people. If you assault a young person – the punishments can be very severe (even if you are a young person yourself).

A serious assault against another young person could lead to a criminal record and prevent you from having a job working with children such as a youth worker.

It could also stop you from travelling to countries such as America where you would be considered a ‘risk of harm to children’.

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Anti-social behaviour
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Sometimes young people do things which don’t actually break the law, but can alarm or distress others. This kind of behaviour is called Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB).

Thanks to the Crime and Disorder Act (1998), the police have a number of ways to deal with anti-social behaviour.

Acceptable Behaviour Contract (ABC) 

An ABC is a written agreement between a person who has been involved in anti-social behaviour and one or more local agencies.

The ABC lists the anti social things that the person has done and that they agree not to do in future.

The contract will usually state what will happen if the person gets involved in anti-social behaviour again.

An ABC is not a legal document, it is a voluntary agreement. However, if a person breaks the contract it might lead to an Anti-Social Behaviour Order or some other legal action.

Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBO's)

If the police or the local council believe someone is continuing to act in an anti-social way they can apply to the Magistrates Courts to get an Anti-Social Behaviour Order against that person.

An Anti-Social Behaviour Order or ASBO can be made against any person aged 10 or over who continues to act in an anti-social way.

The order will usually require the person to stop doing particular things or going to particular places. An ASBO is not a voluntary agreement it's an order from the court.

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Alcohol is of course a drug in its own right, but the laws about young people and alcohol are different from the laws about other drugs.

What is a ‘Licensed Premises’?

In order to sell alcohol, a business like a shop or a pub needs to have a licence. This is a document which gives them permission to sell alcohol.


Age Restrictions



Under 16

You can not buy or knowingly consume (drink)
alcohol on licensed premises.


You are not allowed in any place which is licensed mainly for the buying and drinking of alcohol on site unless you are with someone who is 18 or older.

You can go in to a restaurant which has a license to sell alcohol without someone who is 18 or older, but not between the hours of midnight and 5am and you can not buy or drink alcohol there.

You are not allowed to buy liqueur chocolates.

16 or 17

You can buy or be bought beer, cider or wine, if you are having a meal at a table in a restaurant area and you are accompanied by someone who is 18 or over.

Under 18

If you work in a place where alcohol is sold such as a supermarket or corner shop, you may only sell alcohol where the sale has been approved by a responsible person who is 18 or older.

You can not sell or supply alcohol to anyone under 18.

Police officers are allowed to confiscate (take away) alcohol from anyone under 18 drinking it in a public place.

Related websites:

Norfolk Constabulary is not responsible for the content of external websites.

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Restorative Justice
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Restorative Justice is a unique model of justice that gives victims the chance to tell offenders how their crime has affected them.

A trained facilitator enables the two parties - the offender and the victim to come together and talk about the incident.

It provides the victim an opportunity to confront the offender, ask questions and to receive an apology.

Seeing firsthand the consequences of their actions, an offender can be moved to do something to repair the harm that they've caused.

In a local example of Restorative Justice, after meeting with the victim, a teenager apologised for their actions and made up for it by painting over the graffiti damage that they had caused.

Restorative Justice makes offenders responsible for their actions and helps victims to move on with their lives.

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Crime & Disorder Act
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Once laws that have been made and passed by Parliament, they need to be put into practice and the police help enforce the law.

One such law was the Crime and Disorder Act that was passed in September 1998 by Parliament. This Act made big changes to the way that young people are dealt with if they break the law.

What will happen to me if I break the law then?

From the age of ten, if you break the law and admit the offence there are three options open to the police:

1. You could be reprimanded by a police officer at a police station

2.You could be given a final warning and referred to a Youth Offending Scheme to help you stop offending

3.You could be charged, even if you don't admit it and go to court.

This is not a 1,2,3 system. You can be dealt with in any of these ways. The action that the police decide to take depends on the seriousness of your offence and whether you have offended before.