New Zealand is at Alert Level 1. Please read the guidance.

COVID-19: implications for our practice

Page URL:
Printed: 02/08/2021
Printed pages may be out of date. Please check this information is current before using it in your practice.

Last updated: 01/04/2019

Specialist child interviewing

Specialist child interviews are conducted as part of an investigation when te tamaiti might have been the victim of abuse that may constitute a criminal offence.

What is a specialist child interview

Specialist child interviews follow a set structure and use special interviewing techniques. They must be held at a specialist video interview unit and carried out in accordance with legislation.

The interview helps us get the most complete, accurate and reliable information about the alleged abuse or incident.

All interviews must be recorded and may be used as evidence in court.

When to do it

The decision to conduct a specialist child interview is made with the Police when we're working together under the child protection protocol.

Child protection protocol (CPP)

Who does it

Specialist child interviewing is done by specially-trained social workers and police.

Video tour of an evidential video suite — for tamariki

Evidential videos: What to expect on the day

How it works

1 Referral

The social worker or police officer makes a written referral for a specialist child interview.

They should let the interviewer know:

  • details of the alleged abuse or event  
  • any other information relevant to te tamaiti and their circumstances
  • of any whānau or family or contextual issues that could be relevant to the allegation or provide useful background information.

2 Consent

We prefer to get written, informed consent from a legal guardian who is not the alleged offender before the interview. Consent can be waived in certain circumstances, but we must seek legal advice first.

3 Conducting the interview

Specialist child interviews are held at one of the specialist video interview units across the country — this could be an Oranga Tamariki site or a police site. 

The interview process (talking to the adults, the interview of te tamaiti, written reports) takes up to half a day to complete.

Apart from exceptional circumstances, only te tamaiti and the specialist child interviewer will be in the interview room during the interview.

Information must be collected in a competent way that:

  • follows the Evidence Act 2006 and Evidence Regulations 2007
  • builds rapport with te tamaiti
  • allows them to clearly and freely state the facts of the complaint without being asked leading questions
  • respects their developmental, cultural and individual characteristics.

Evidence Act 2006 —

Evidence Regulations 2007 —

4 After the interview

The interviewer will talk to the whānau or family, and wherever possible with the social worker and/or police officer present, about what te tamaiti said.

The interviewer will:

  • provide feedback on the interview in appropriate detail
  • explain what will happen to the video records and who may see them
  • explain what will happen next 
  • talk about how te tamaiti is feeling and check out how the adults are feeling.

The interviewer will support the social worker to talk with whānau or family when te tamaiti has made a disclosure of abuse during the interview.

The social worker will work with the whānau or family to build safety around the te tamaiti and talk about what might need to happen next, eg counselling, medical examination, further police involvement.

Sometimes there will be no disclosure of abuse and the whānau or family may just need advice about counselling or support.

The social worker may consider the option of a whānau or family and professionals meeting after the specialist child interview. This will enable all the people who are important to te tamaiti to work together with the social worker to plan for their safety and wellbeing.

5 The video record

Once the specialist child interview has been completed, the video record of the interview remains the property of the Police.

The video record may be used as evidence in future court cases.

If there are:

  • court proceedings, records must be kept for ten years
  • no court proceedings, records must be kept for seven years.