Bob is out on the town with his young child. He then gets arrested by police officers, and his child is left all alone not sufficiently mature to be able to find his way home. Do police have any responsibility for ensuring the welfare of the child? Does it matter if the child is too young to walk and was being carried in Bob’s arms at the time of arrest?

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    Are you just asking what the normal procedures are? Or are you asking about the legal consequences if they are not followed, as in your hypothetical case? Commented Jan 15 at 3:30
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    I’m asking what the normal procedures are. @NateEldredge. Commented Jan 15 at 8:26
  • (As described in the title) Commented Jan 15 at 8:32
  • I corrected your use of "implicated" to "implemented" and you changed it back. I would suggest you look up the definition of these terms, they mean different things. (procedures are implemented, people are implicated.) Just trying to be helpful... Commented Jan 16 at 18:57
  • No worries but having now actually looked up the term my understanding is confirmed: I see 3 definitions, one of which is alluded to by you, another of which supports my use. It means to be involved with or concerned in. Commented Jan 16 at 19:17

3 Answers 3


Following the standard procedure explained to me by an officer, the arrestee and the children should be brought to the police station first unless a legal guardian other than the arrested one is close by and could pick them up from the scene of the arrest.

At the station, the police can look for a legal guardian and contact them. The guardian is then asked to either pick up the child from the station or a police car will drop them off at the home, if possible. While the child is at the station, they are usually seated in an office with an officer trained for such situations and some toys (such as plushies), pens, and paper to help comfort them.

In case the legal guardian is not reachable, can't take care of the child or there is no other legal guardian, the Jugendamt (~Office for Youth [affairs]) gets contacted for a temporary place the child can stay at. The Jugendamt is informed of the arrest in either way.


Police, rescue services, and fire department cars often have a plushie on board to give to children they deal with. Many of these are provided by the "Deutsche Teddystiftung". They organize these "Trostbären" (comfort bears), which are paid for by sponsorships from companies or private actors, who in turn get to put the amount down as a charitable gift.


Child-protection statutes authorize the police officers to take charge of the child when the child would be left without a parent to take care of them. For example:

A police officer may, without a court order, take charge of a child if the police officer has reasonable grounds to believe that the child's health or safety is in immediate danger

The police officer must then immediately report the circumstances to a director and take the child to a director or to a person or place designated by a director, which may be the child's ordinary home, if there is another parent or guardian.


Generally, the police take immediate custody of the child, until another parent or guardian or caretaker of the child can be located. For example, if the person arrested was on a date with someone who was not arrested, the child might be entrusted to that person.

If this can't be done quickly, the child is turned over to child protective services (CPS) to provide temporary foster care, until a more permanent resolution can be found, either with a guardian or family caretaker, or with longer term foster care.

In the U.S., child protection services is typically a civilian county level social services agency funded by some combination of the state government and the county government and overseen primarily by the county commissioners in the county.

Do police have any responsibility for ensuring the welfare of the child?

Yes. The police are responsible for putting the child in a stabilized situation in the care of a responsible person.

his child is left all alone not sufficiently mature to be able to find his way home.

It would be police misconduct if this was done knowingly.

Of course, it is possible that the police would arrest someone and not know that the person has a child nearby, and the person arrested might not inform them of that fact.

In that case, it would be handled like any other situation where an unaccompanied child in need of supervision is located, with either child protective services, or the police or other first responders (e.g., firemen) followed by child protective services, responding to the situation. It is also possible that a bystander would provide care personally and try to locate a parent before involving authorities.

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