Advice from Police Scotland Fife Division

Common Student Charges

1. Urinating/Defecating in Public.  A very common and unpleasant charge, but it is completely avoidable.  Just remember to use the toilets before you leave a pub or house party, and you’ll save yourself a fixed penalty ticket of £40.

2. Drinking in Public.  In St Andrews, local by-laws mean that drinking alcohol in public places is banned.  This means taking your drink outside while you have a cigarette, walk home, or even taking some beer along to a beach BBQ could land you with a £40 fixed penalty ticket.

3. Breach of the Peace.  This is defined as: ‘any person(s) whose conduct is such that it causes alarm, annoyance or disturbance of any other person’.  This can cover a wide range of incidents.  For such offences, a fixed penalty ticket or a court summons will be issued.  Other public disturbances worth noting are streaking and mooning, which are classed as ‘sexual breach of the peace’ and as such may be included on the Sex Offenders Register.

4. Drunk and Incapable.  No explanation needed!  This usually results in the issue of a fixed penalty ticket

5. Assault.  A court summons is the most likely result of a charge for assault.  The process can take a long time, and you may be suspended from the University until your court case. 

6. Theft.  Whilst St Andrews is considered a fairly ‘safe’ town, it is still good sense to protect your property.  Make sure your property is insured, and report all thefts to the Police.  If you believe you have been given stolen property, you can still be charged for this, so report it to the Police.

7. Vandalism. Penalties for being caught vandalising property range from a fixed penalty ticket to more serious penalties issued in court.

8. False reporting/Attempting to Pervert the Course of Justice.  A great deal of valuable Police time is wasted on false reports, and withholding of information.  Furthermore, false allegations can irreparably damage the character of the falsely accused.  Please cooperate fully with the Police when required.

9. Driving Offences.  These will be referred to court where penalties imposed can include fines, points added to your licence, withdrawal of your licence, and jail terms.

10. Resisting Arrest.  As you can see from this list, the majority of offences (around two thirds) are resolved on the spot with a fixed penalty ticket.  If you resist arrest, further penalties will be imposed.

Q.  What can happen if I get into trouble with the Police?

A.  There are various courses of action available to the Police to deal with criminal acts or anti social behaviour, depending upon the severity of the offence:

  • Arrested and kept in a Police cell to appear “the next lawful day” at Court.  This means that if you are arrested on a Tuesday you will appear at Court on the Wednesday morning, but if you are arrested on a Friday you will remain in a Police cell until Monday morning.
  • Arrested, but released on Bail, to appear at Court, on a date and time specified.
  • Arrested but released for Summons, which means that the Court will decide the date and time of your Court appearance.
  • A Formal Adult Warning maybe given for less serious offences.  This is recorded as a crime on our Police systems.  You will be sent a letter regarding the incident and advising of the outcome of any further criminal acts.
  • A Fixed Penalty Ticket, which is for a minor act of Anti social Behaviour or Road Traffic offences.  These are fixed fines, which you have to pay within 28 days.
  • A verbal Police warning, where the Police officer will point out that your behaviour is bordering on a criminal act, or is for a minor offence and is giving you an opportunity to stop before having to take further action.

Q.  What can affect me obtaining a Visa?

A.  There are a number of reasons why you may not be granted a Visa to the UK or other countries.  The offences that Police Scotland Fife Division have charged students with and can affect a Visa are:

  • Any drug Offence
  • A sexual Offence 
  • Crimes of dishonesty

Q.  What is Disclosure?

A.  It is a method for potential employers or voluntary organisations to ascertain if you have a criminal history.  Disclosure Scotland carry out searches against the Scottish Criminal History System (CHS) and the UK wide Police National Computer (PNC).  Fixed penalty tickets which were paid within 28 days will not be shown as a conviction and will NOT be disclosed.  However, they will be disclosed to the University under the information sharing protocol as these are kept on Police records for 2 years.

Q. I am a medical student, what information will be given to the General Medical Council?

A.  The General Medical Council (GMC) asks you to disclose any Police convictions and cautions.  This term really relates to English Police as their caution refers to a Formal Warning.  Scottish Police caution is a common law caution, used when interviewing a suspect, taking a statement from someone who may end up being an accused person, or when charging someone. The caution is simply informing that person of their right to remain silent - “You do not have to say anything, but anything you do say will be noted and maybe used in evidence”.


For advice on any topic, please contact:

Police Scotland Fife Division



Contact Police Scotland - Police Scotland