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4.9 Search and Seizure

Last Modified: 04-May-2017 Review Date: 01-Jun-2019

Purpose

​​To inform residential care workers when and how a child in the CEO’s care may be searched or have items seized under Division 8 Powers of restraint, search and seizure Children and Community Services Act (2004).

Practice Requirements

  • ​Only WA Police officers or TCI accredited residential care staff are authorised to search a child or seize items from the child. In some country homes some staff may not be authorised to search a child or seize items from the child because they have not completed TCI training. 
  • Residential care workers are not authorised in any circumstances to examine a child’s body or body cavities, or authorise the removal of some or all of a child’s clothing. 
  • A child must, wherever possible, only be searched by an authorised officer or officers of the same sex. 
  • Where there is uncertainty about the child’s gender, the authorised officer must ask the child whether the search should be conducted by a male or a female, and act in accordance with the child’s answer. In the absence of an answer, the child must be treated according to his or her outward appearance of gender, and be searched according to that gender. 
  • When the staffing gender-balance does not allow a choice of male or female to conduct the search, the urgency of conducting the search must be weighed against: 
    • the risks associated with waiting for an officer of the appropriate gender, or 
    • not conducting the search at all. 
  • The search must be conducted in the company of at least one other adult. 
  • Any search of a child must be conducted expeditiously, with decency and respect. 
  • Under Division 8 of the Act, a child in the CEO’s care may only be searched when 
    • he or she is being moved, or has moved, to a safe place under s.41, or 
    • an authorised officer believes on reasonable grounds that, unless the power is exercised, the child concerned is likely to: 
      • ​endanger the health or safety of the child or another person, or 
      • cause serious damage to property.​​

Procedures

  • Search and seizure powers under the Act
  • How are seized articles to be dealt with?
  • Removal of suspected illicit substances:
  • Search and seizure powers under the Act

    ​In all circumstances residential care workers should exercise discretion before considering use of the search and seizure provisions of the Act. 

    To ‘search’ means an authorised officer may search a child or articles in the child’s possession. 

    Powers to search under the Act do not authorise the examination of a child’s body or body cavities, or the removal of some or all of a child’s clothing under any circumstances (s.115(5)). 

    If residential care workers suspect that a child should be searched, the search may only be conducted after careful consideration of the child’s circumstances and history, and then only if there is a reasonable suspicion that the child has in their possession something that may, if used or allowed to remain there, would: 

    • cause serious damage to the health of the child or someone else 
    • threaten the life of the child or of someone else, and 
    • it is reasonably believed that it is necessary to search the child to recover dangerous items, or items not permitted in the home.​
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    How are seized articles to be dealt with?

    ​When residential care workers seize articles as a result of a personal search of a child or their possessions they must store the items securely and record the item(s) seized, a description of the item, and the date in the Log Book and the child’s case notes. 

    Residential care workers are not required to return an item that, in the possession of the child is likely to: 

    • cause serious damage to the health of anyone, or 
    • threaten the life of another person. 

    If a residential care worker seizes a firearm, weapon or prohibited article from a child, he or she must contact WA Police to advise them of the item seized before delivering it into the custody of a police officer as soon as possible. 

    If illicit substances have been collected, follow the below guidelines: 

    • ​Don’t put yourself at risk. 
    • Avoid direct handling of a suspected illicit substance. 
    • Managers are responsible for the management of suspected illicit substances. 
    • There is no requirement to provide WA Police with the name of a person in possession of a suspected illicit substance; however, it is recommended that a person possessing a substantial amount of any illicit substance is reported. 
    • WA Police are contactable for advice at any time on 131 444.
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    Removal of suspected illicit substances:

    1. ​​​​Suspected illicit substances must be removed and placed in an envelope or bag which is double bagged and sealed. A sticker must be placed over the seal, and signed by residential care workers. 
    2. The sealed envelope or bag must be stored in a locked cupboard or safe. 
    3. The date, time, location, circumstances, and who was in possession of the suspected illicit substance must be recorded, along with a brief description of the suspected illicit substance (for example, quantity, colour, shape, size, etc.). The residential care workers involved must sign against the record. 
    4. Contact WA Police on 131 444 to request collection of the bagged substance. 
    5. Record the date and time the bagged substance is collected. 

    If the seized items are disposable (such as a disposable hypodermic needle, syringe, a disposable cigarette lighter, or any disposable item that does not exceed $30 in value), or an intoxicant (other than a prohibited article), residential care workers should place the item in safe keeping until the manager decides on the destruction or otherwise of the item. 

    The child’s case manager must be notified via email about any items seized and the location of those items (for example, if disposed, placed in child’s property, or handed to WA Police, etc.).

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