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Printed: 24/02/2024
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Last updated: 01/07/2019

Supporting rangatahi in police custody under section 238(1)(e) before Youth Court hearing

A social worker is allocated to each rangatahi in police custody to undertake the requirements of the Youth Court review process under section 241(2) and to ensure we are monitoring the safety and wellbeing of rangatahi while in police custody.

Upcoming changes for this guidance

This content will be strengthened so it more completely reflects our commitment to practice framed by te Tiriti o Waitangi, based on a mana-enhancing paradigm for practice, and drawing from ​Te Ao Māori principles of oranga to support mana tamaiti, whakapapa and whanaungatanga. We each need to consider how we can apply these principles to our practice when reading this guidance. The following resources provide support:
Practice for working effectively with Māori
Our practice approach

Reviewing rangatahi in police custody

A Youth Court may order a rangatahi (aged 12 to 17) to be detained in Police custody pending their hearing if the court is satisfied that:

  • rangatahi is likely to abscond or be violent, and
  • the chief executive of Oranga Tamariki does not have suitable facilities available to detain rangatahi in safe custody (in practice this will usually mean a place in a youth justice residence is not immediately available or other circumstances such as the risk of violence posed by rangatahi require rangatahi to be placed or remain in Police custody).

Custody of child or young person pending hearing — section 238(1)(e) and (f) of Oranga Tamariki Act 1989

Under section 241(2), the Youth Court must review this order at least once every 24 hours unless clearly impracticable. Rangatahi will be recalled to court so the judge can review the order.

Review of orders made under section 238 — section 241 of Oranga Tamariki Act 1989

A social worker is allocated to each rangatahi. The social worker:

  • prioritises their engagements with Police, whānau or family and the youth advocate for rangatahi
  • continues to look for suitable alternatives to the continued detention of rangatahi in Police custody, such as a placement in the community, an Oranga Tamariki residence or a youth unit in a prison
  • undertakes an assessment of the safety and wellbeing and safety of rangatahi by applying a SKS screen and wellbeing check, and checks rangatahi has access to basic amenities
  • liaises with Police about any health and wellbeing needs (including mental health) whilst rangatahi is in police custody
  • liaises with the youth justice coordinator who will convene the family group conference for rangatahi during the remand period
  • liaises with the care or protection social worker if rangatahi has one.

SACs, Kessler and Suicide screens (SKS)

When the review happens

A review of an order detaining a rangatahi in Police custody under section 238(1)(e) must be undertaken by the Youth Court at least once every 24 hours unless clearly impracticable.

The social worker will visit and check on rangatahi at least once every 24 hours regardless of whether the order is able to be reviewed by the Youth Court.

Oranga Tamariki works with the Youth Court and Police during this time.

Who does it

The allocated social worker consults with rangatahi, their whānau or family, the youth advocate and Police regarding alternative custody options. The social worker also checks the safety and wellbeing of rangatahi.

The youth justice supervisor oversees the social worker and offers support with the processes to ensure compliance.

The youth justice coordinator works with the social worker, whānau or family and Police by prioritising the convening of the family group conference to seek an alternative custody option.

How to do it

1 Look for an alternative custody arrangement for rangatahi

The social worker should:

  • contact the National Office residential admissions officer to determine whether there is a vacancy in a youth justice residence
  • engage and seek views and options from rangatahi and their whānau or family regarding alternative placement, for example bail — consider whether Oranga Tamariki can support the placement such as helping to find and assess alternative whānau or family placement options or assisting with Supported Bail
  • identify care options with approved caregivers for rangatahi who are also subject to a care order from the Family Court
  • keep the whānau or family, youth advocate and Police informed regarding progress with remand discussions and planning, and alternative placement options, including where a youth justice residence placement has become available.

2 Monitor the wellbeing of rangatahi

The social worker should make arrangements with Police so they can visit and support rangatahi each day.

This involves:

  • monitoring their wellbeing
  • undertaking the following assessments:
    • Suicide, psychological distress and substance abuse (SKS)
    • Substance Abuse and Choices Scale (SACS)
    • Suicide screening/assessment tools
  • recording the assessments on CYRAS to ensure that accurate and full records are maintained
  • updating Tuituia with significant cultural and whānau connections
  • for rangatahi Māori, referring to our Māori Cultural Framework and Te Toka Tūmoana for principles with which to work effectively with whānau and the practice standard for engaging whānau, hapū and iwi.

SACs, Kessler and Suicide screens (SKS)

Tuituia framework and tools

Keep accurate records

See and engage whānau, wider family, caregivers and when appropriate victims of offending by tamariki

Working with Māori: Te Toka Tūmoana

Our Māori Cultural Framework

3 Keep in contact with whānau or family, caregivers and other people important to rangatahi

Keep in contact with whānau members, caregivers and other people who are significant to rangatahi (including if rangatahi has a transition worker) and advocate for their contact with rangatahi while in Police custody where appropriate.

4 Keep in contact with the youth advocate and the Police

Keep the youth advocate and the Police informed about progress with remand discussions and planning. Alert the Police and youth advocate to any emerging wellbeing needs for rangatahi and advocate for them to have these met, such as contact with whānau or family and medical care.

5 Keep the youth justice coordinator informed

The social worker must keep the youth justice coordinator who is convening the family group conference informed about:

  • progress of the remand status of the rangatahi
  • possible alternative placement options.

6 Update the Youth Court each day

The social worker or supervisor must ensure the Youth Court is updated each day regarding the wellbeing of the rangatahi and plans to have the remand status from Police detention changed to custody to the chief executive of Oranga Tamariki or appropriate bail options.