Two young people sat on bench with luggage at the side looking for information on mobile devices

Rights and responsibilities

Everyone has the right to be treated fairly and be protected from harm

You should also respect the rights of others.

The UK has additional laws that protect your rights, such as:

  • equality laws to protect you from discrimination
  • laws that protect you at work
  • rights when you buy goods and services.

There is help and advice available at Platform. At Lift there are dedicated youth workers that you can talk to, including the Progress Team for young people. 

There are organisations and websites that can offer you free advice and information about your legal rights, or help you find a legal adviser:

Equality and rights

There are laws in the UK to try and make sure that everyone is treated equally and to protect people from discrimination.

Discrimination means being treated differently or less favourably than others. Laws protect you against discrimination on the grounds of disability, gender, sexual orientation, race, religion or belief, and age. It is also unlawful for someone to harass or bully you because of who you are.

  • Age discrimination laws only apply in employment, education and training
  • Employment rights and laws protect you in work, including pay and hours. If you are under 18, there are limits to what work you can do, where you can do it and the hours you can work.
  • Consumer rights protect you when you buy goods and services. You can complain if they are not good quality, not fit for purpose or do not match their description.

There are laws in place such as a minimum age for bar work, driving a car, buying a Lottery ticket, giving blood and more!

Your rights - in care and leaving care

If you are in care, your local authority has to provide you with the care you need, somewhere to live, and make sure you are treated fairly.

You have the right to:

  • health care and education
  • protection if you have been mistreated or harmed
  • complain if you are not happy with your treatment or placement
  • have contact with family and friends.

The local authority must listen to what you want when looking at your Care Plan and you:

  • have the right to see what is written about you
  • have someone to help you – an ‘advocate’ – if you want to complain about anything or need help putting your views across in meetings, writing letters or filling in forms

When you are 16, the local authority/your advocate will help you prepare a plan for the future to support you with:

  • your education, training or employment
  • when you will leave care
  • where you will live
  • what money and other help you will need.
Your rights - refugees, asylum seekers

Your rights – refugees, asylum seekers

A refugee is someone who has left their own country and come to the UK because they believe they are at risk of being seriously mistreated if they go home. If the UK Government accepts this, you may be given refugee status, humanitarian protection or discretionary leave to stay for up to five years, after which you then have to apply again to be allowed to stay here.

An asylum seeker is someone waiting for, or appealing, the Home Office’s decision on their application to stay.

Rights to education, training and employment and other kinds of support depends on your immigration status

If you are under 18you have the same right to support, education and other services as any other young person in the UK:

  • Up to the age of 16, you can go to school, wherever you are from and whatever your immigration status
  • Between 16 and 18 you will be able to study for free at a college or sixth form, providing that you have the qualifications they ask for
  • At 18 or older, you can attend university if you have the right qualifications. UCAS has further information on higher education courses. If you have refugee or humanitarian protection status, you can get student support such as a student loan for fees and possibly a university bursary. Asylum seekers or people with only discretionary leave to remain, do not get student support and may have to pay the fees charged for overseas students rather than home student fees.

If you are under 18 and have arrived in the UK with nowhere to live and no parents to look after you, the local authority where you are staying should:

  • look after you
  • assess you and give you a copy of their report in your own language
  • help you with accommodation, money, support and protection
  • give a social worker responsibility for your care.

You can take paid work in the UK if you have permission to stay with refugee, humanitarian protection status or discretionary leave to remain. Most asylum seekers cannot work in the UK.You will need:

Your rights - you and the Police

Your rights – you and the Police

You may come into contact with the police if you have:

  • been harmed or had something stolen or damaged
  • reported or witnessed a crime
  • broken or are suspected of breaking the law

You have legal rights if you are stopped and questioned by the police, or arrested and taken to the police station.They must treat you fairly, with respect, and according to the Police and Criminal Evidence (PACE) rules. If they do not you can complain.

The police can stop and search you if:

  • there has been serious violence or trouble in the area
  • they are concerned about terrorism
  • they are looking for someone who fits your description
  • they have reasonable grounds to suspect you are carrying a weapon, drugs or stolen property.

You have the right to know who they are, which police station they are from, why they have stopped you, and if they search you, what they are looking for.

If you are arrested and held at the police station, you have the right to:

  • know why you have been arrested
  • have advice from a solicitor
  • look at the police rules about how they must treat you
  • have a relative or friend told where you are.

If you are under 17, the police will arrange for your parent, carer or another adult, to come to the police station with you. 

You can’t usually be held for more than 24 hours without being charged with a crime but it can be longer for serious crimes.

If you are charged with an offence you may be kept in custody, or you may be allowed to go home on bail until the date fixed for you to attend court. Your bail notice will have conditions on what you must do and must not do, and will set a sum of money that must be paid to the court if you do not turn up. Make sure you:

  • get a solicitor
  • take with you any official papers that you have been given
  • your parent or carer must go with you, if you are under 16

If you miss court, you could be arrested and not allowed to go home.

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