I'm really interested to know if it's legal in London (UK) and Germany for a child, say at 13 or even aged 8, to do a citizen's arrest? On an adult, if that makes a difference.

3 Answers 3


Short answer: Yes, but with some limitations - none of which are age-related so do not restrict a citizen's arrest to adults only.

Long answer: The relevant legislation is at s.24A of the Policeand Criminal Evidence Act 1984 which begins with:

(1) A person other than a constable may arrest without a warrant—

Which is followed by the limitations on its use:

  • (a) anyone who is in the act of committing an indictable offence;

  • (b) anyone whom he has reasonable grounds for suspecting to be committing an indictable offence.

(2) Where an indictable offence has been committed, a person other than a constable may arrest without a warrant—

  • (a) anyone who is guilty of the offence;

  • (b) anyone whom he has reasonable grounds for suspecting to be guilty of it.

(3) But the power of summary arrest conferred by subsection (1) or (2) is exercisable only if—

  • (a) the person making the arrest has reasonable grounds for believing that for any of the reasons mentioned in subsection (4) it is necessary to arrest the person in question; and

  • (b) it appears to the person making the arrest that it is not reasonably practicable for a constable to make it instead.

(4) The reasons are to prevent the person in question—

  • (a) causing physical injury to himself or any other person;

  • (b) suffering physical injury;

  • (c) causing loss of or damage to property; or

  • (d) making off before a constable can assume responsibility for him.

(5) This section does not apply in relation to an offence under Part 3 or 3A of the Public Order Act 1986. [ being racial hatred and hatred against persons on religious grounds or grounds of sexual orientation respectively.]

The opening phrase of "a person" is not defined in this or any related Act, nor has the question of age in this context ever been considered the courts (as far as I have been able to establish) - so in the absence of any statutory definition or case law its normal and everyday meaning should be used.


This will probably depend on what you understand as a citizen's arrest and will probably differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

In Germany the closest thing to citizen's arrest is called Vorläufige Festnahme (Provisional arrest) and probably contains a different set of conditions when it can be used.

§ 127 Provisional arrest
(1) If a person is caught in the act or is being pursued, any person shall be authorised to arrest him provisionally, even without judicial order, if there is reason to suspect flight or if his identity cannot be immediately established. The establishment of the identity of a person by the public prosecution office or by police officers shall be governed by section 163b (1).

Through the usage of the word jedermann (any person), a child (minor) can also exercise this right.


  • 2
    While a child has the right it most likely doesn't have the means and might lack the knowledge that they could*/*should do so. That however, is not a legal problem. // If a Corläufige FEstnahme lacks any foundation it quickly turns into Freiheitsberaubung.
    – Trish
    Commented Sep 21, 2021 at 13:58
  • 2
    @Trish Preventing someone to escape, the main usage, is within the capabilities of many minors. Whether they understand the legal aspects is another question. Being a minor they may not be held responsible if they don't get everything right. Commented Sep 21, 2021 at 14:12
  • 2
    True - a tiny point that might be well added (though 12-18 is possibly liable)
    – Trish
    Commented Sep 21, 2021 at 14:21
  • @Trish: Criminal Responsability starts at 14 in Germany.
    – erebus
    Commented Feb 22, 2022 at 8:08


Under s24A of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 the power is given to “A person other than a constable”. A child is “a person other than a constable”.

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