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Page URL: https://practice.orangatamariki.govt.nz/policy/working-with-tamariki-and-rangatahi-who-are-missing-or-whose-absence-is-unauthorised/
Printed: 14/06/2024
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Listen to this policy:

Working with tamariki and rangatahi who are missing, or whose absence is unauthorised

This policy outlines our responsibilities and the process to follow when one of our tamariki or rangatahi is missing or their absence is unauthorised.

Who this policy applies to

This policy applies to all tamariki and rangatahi in the care or custody of the chief executive, including those subject to youth justice plans and/or orders.

If a tamaiti or rangatahi is missing

If we determine that te tamaiti or rangatahi is missing, we must:

  • make a missing person report to the Police — complete a CYRAS template (POL 62) and email it to otmp@police.govt.nz
  • continue to regularly phone or text te tamaiti or rangatahi
  • continue to visit and contact places where it is known te tamaiti or rangatahi spends time or people known to te tamaiti or rangatahi
  • work in partnership with whānau or family, considering their views about where their tamaiti or rangatahi might be and how best to find them
  • keep whānau or family, caregivers and care providers updated on actions undertaken and progress made.

The power to detain and use force to remove or return te tamaiti or rangatahi to a residence or remand home

If an urgent response is needed, we must call the Police on 111.

Communication with Police

We must maintain contact with the Police throughout the process of dealing with a missing person. We must inform them:

  • how we've tried to contact te tamaiti or rangatahi and any new information gathered – at a minimum, we must make contact with the Police on days 1, 7, 21 and 50
  • when te tamaiti or rangatahi is found.

If there is any consideration given to contacting the media, then both Oranga Tamariki and the Police must discuss this and agree on the content.

Tamariki or rangatahi who go missing repeatedly

When a tamaiti or rangatahi is reported missing twice in a week or three times in a month, or there are serious risks identified, we must:

  • review with our supervisor:
    • patterns when te tamaiti or rangatahi goes missing
    • possible triggers for going missing – change in circumstances, recent events, identified stressors
    • how we can better understand the underlying reasons for going missing
    • how we could do things differently
    • what supports we could offer
  • talk with:
    • te tamaiti or rangatahi to hear their views and feelings for the purpose of trying to understand what is happening for them and what they want or need
    • the caregiver or residential staff
    • the whānau or family to ascertain their views about what is happening and what is needed
  • hold a case consultation.

Following the review and case consultation, we must:

  • record the action plans in CYRAS and the CGIS caregiver record, if appropriate
  • update the All About Me plan.

If te tamaiti or rangatahi absconds from a youth justice placement where they are detained

If te tamaiti or rangatahi who is:

  • arrested under section 235 and placed in the custody of the chief executive by the Police before their first Youth Court appearance
  • detained under section 238(1)(d) in the custody of the chief executive before their hearing
  • sentenced under section 311 to Supervision with Residence

absconds either directly from, or while being escorted to or from, the remand home or youth justice residence where they have been placed, they have escaped their place of detention. This is an offence, and they could potentially be charged.

If te tamaiti or rangatahi has escaped detention, we must:

  • call the Police on 111 informing them of this, stating clearly their legal status
  • follow the missing person process.

If a tamaiti or rangatahi is missing

The power to detain and use force to remove or return te tamaiti or rangatahi to a residence or remand home

Only the Police and staff of residences administered by the Crown (excluding Te Poutama Arahi Rangatahi) have the power to detain tamariki or rangatahi without a warrant and return them to the residence or placement. (The chief executive also has this power, but it is not currently delegated.)

The Police or a social worker may only use force to remove or return te tamaiti or rangatahi to their authorised placement with a warrant issued under section 386 of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989. Legal Services can help us if we consider a warrant is needed. Only a team leader may apply under current delegations.

Search warrants — section 386(1A) of Oranga Tamariki Act 1989