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20 October 2014
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The Basics | More Information | Web Links
The law

Laws are made by MPs. Someone in parliament will suggest a new law, or an alteration to an existing one, such as changes to punishments for carrying illegal guns.

Sometimes new laws are needed to ensure that the UK complies with International or European Law. The Human Rights Act 1998 and the Freedom of Information Act 2000 are recent examples of this.

This draft - or proposed - law is called a Bill. It must be discussed in the House of Commons and in the House of Lords.

When this is done and the new law has been agreed, the Queen must give her approval. The Bill then becomes an Act.

The police


There are 43 police forces in England and Wales. They are paid for by central and local government through taxes.

What do the police do?

  • Protect us and our property.
  • Deal with emergencies.
  • Keep order, allow freedom of speech and peaceful demonstrations.
  • Investigate crimes with police officers, Criminal Investigation Departments (CID) and specialist units such as the Drug Squad and the Special Branch.
  • Gather and prepare information to prosecute offenders in court.
  • Help the victims of crime by putting them in touch with victim support services.
  • Manage traffic and make sure people are safe on the roads.
  • Patrol the streets to make people feel safe.
  • Help with crime prevention and reduction.
  • Tell people the time when they ask!

Shoplifting and youth crime

  • Young offenders are far more likely to be found guilty of, or cautioned for, theft and handling stolen goods than for any other offence.
  • More than 20 percent of shoplifters are under 18 (some people say the figure may be as high as thirty percent). Shopkeepers say the total cost of youth shoplifting is about £190,000,000 a year.
  • The vast majority of thefts from record, sports and health and beauty shops are by children. Only about ten percent of thefts from DIY shops are by children.

Click to find out more about young people and shop theft and punishment

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