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).
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.
A social worker is allocated to each rangatahi. The social worker:
- prioritises their engagements with Police, family/whānau 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.
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 rangitahi 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 family/whānau, 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, family/whānau 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 family/whānau regarding alternative placement, for example bail — consider whether Oranga Tamariki can support the placement such as helping to find and assess alternative family/whānau 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 family/whānau, 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.
- 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 Tumoana for principles with which to work effectively with whānau and the practice standard for engaging whānau, hapū and iwi.
3 Keep in contact with family/whānau, caregivers and other people important to rangitahi
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 family/whānau 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.