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Printed: 21/05/2022
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Custody for children and young people following arrest

Updated: 09 November 2021

Note that Oranga Tamariki and New Zealand Police have agreed an updated interpretation of section 235 of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989.

Child or young person who is arrested may be placed in custody of the chief executive – section 235 of Oranga Tamariki Act 1989

It is important to both Oranga Tamariki and Police that, when a rangatahi is placed in the custody of the Oranga Tamariki chief executive, the most appropriate placement for them is found and that it is found quickly.

Previously, when section 235 was used, te tamaiti or rangatahi was required to be detained, although this did not necessarily mean in a residence. Only a limited number of places nationally meet the requirements for detention. We have now reached the view that section 235 placements in the chief executive’s custody authorise but do not require detention.

In our view, the updated interpretation promotes a rights-based approach when dealing with the liberty of tamariki and rangatahi at a pre-trial stage and before they have been brought before a court. This better aligns to our commitments under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCROC). The change also means that, for eligible rangatahi, we can now offer a greater range of placements and potentially offer smaller, therapeutic placements as well as options closer to or with their whānau, family and support networks. This decreases demand for short-term places in the more institutional secure residences and allows us to provide options in communities where there is no property currently available that permits detention.

We have jointly developed guidance about what should be considered when deciding on the most appropriate placement option, including whether detention is appropriate in the circumstances. Police and Oranga Tamariki have worked together at all points in the development of this new guidance, which was issued simultaneously to Police and Oranga Tamariki kaimahi on Friday 5 November.