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6.11 Contact with the Police or Justice System

Last Modified: 05-May-2022 Review Date: 01-Jun-2019


​​Residential Care staff have the responsibility for day to day care of children within the Department of Communities' (the Department's) residential care homes.  Most children are in the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Department's care, where the parental responsibility is delegated to the District child protection worker (CPW).  On rare occasions, children are placed in houses on negotiated placement agreements (NPA's), where the parental responsibility remains with the child's parents, though case managed by a District CPW.

Residential care staff work in partnership with the District CPW to provide a safe and healing environment for all the children with in the home.

This provides guidance to residential care workers about their responsibilities and expectations regarding police or justice contact with the children in their care.

Practice Requirements
Children and young people in Residential Care can present with extremely challenging behaviour including verbal threats, aggression, and other situations of conflict that are expressions of trauma. 
Residential Care staff have a duty of care toward all children and need to be trauma-informed in their responses and able to confidently de-escalate conflictual situations.  Decision-making by staff is based upon assessment of individual needs and situational factors.  On occasions, this may include staff contacting the WA Police for assistance.
Appropriate contact by staff to police includes circumstances:
  • where it is assessed that there is a risk of serious harm to the child, other children or a staff member and police assistance is required for immediate safety reasons;
  • of a serious criminal nature where charges would be expected to follow; and/or
  • meeting other reporting requirements e.g. vehicle damage and police reference number is required.  Refer to Administration Manual 5 Facilities - Risk Cover Insurance Motor Vehicles.    

The police must not be used as a means of dealing with or controlling disruptive behaviour (refer to the Residential Care Practice Manual entry 4.7 - Therapeutic Crisis and Intervention and Use of Physical Restraint).

When an incident occurs with police involvement, a Critical Incident Summary Form and subsequent Critical Incident Report must be completed (as per the guidance outlines in the Residential Care Practice Manual 4.8 Critical Incidents).


  • Police Seek Interview of a Child
  • Information Requests and Confidentiality
  • Bail of a Child in the CEO's Care
  • Child Attending Court
  • Community Service Work Orders
  • Police Seek Interview of a Child

    ​If Police reasonably suspect a child in the CEO's care has committed an offence, they may seek to interview the child.  Only the child can give consent (or refuse and/or withdraw consent) to be being interviewed by Police.

    If an interview proceeds, the child must have a Responsible Person present and have received legal advice before proceeding. 

    A residential care worker must not act as a Responsible Person for a child in the CEO's care.  District CPW's must act as the Responsible Person, or if after hours, this role is undertaken by an authorised officer from the Crisis Care Unit. 

    When there is a request by police to interview a child, you must refer to the current Casework Practice Manual entry 3.2 Consent for Police Inerviews for Children in the CEO's Care for information about:

    • Protecting the rights of the child.
    • Residential Care Workers roles and responsibilities.
    • The role of a Responsible Person.
    • Consent to collect DNA evidence.
    • After-hours procedures for consent and legal advice.

    WA Police officers may insist that you accompany the child and act as a Responsible Person.  You must not act as the Responsible Person and must decline this request. 

    The Responsible Person must consider the best interests of the child in all decisions.

    You should not accompany a child taken to a police station.  Should you be requested to attend to provide support until the Responsible Person arrives, you must consider the needs of the home at this time. 



    Information Requests and Confidentiality

    ​If a WA Police officer makes a request for written information about household events or operations, you must refer them to the Manager who will inform Residential Care Senior Management and contact Release of Information, Corporate Information immediately for advice. 

    The decision by Senior Management to release information will be informed by the legal requirements of such requests including subpoenas, warrants and other mandated processes.

    If a WA Police officer requests access to information about a child, you must refer them to the child's District CPW.  Refer to the Casework Practice Manual entry 4.2.4 Freedom of information and Legal Requests and 4.2 Working with other agencies - memoranda of understanding and information sharing for further information.


    Bail of a Child in the CEO's Care

    Bail is a written promise that a person makes to attend Court on a certain day and at a particular time.  The person also agrees to comply with the conditions that may be imposed by WA Police or the Court.  When signed, it is called a bail undertaking.  This means that the child does not have to be held in detention while they wait to go to court.  ​​

    For a child aged 10-16 years to get bail, a Responsible Person must sign the bail undertaking to ensure the child complies with the requirements of the Bail Act 1982 (Schedule 1 Part C  Clause 2).  As residential care workers, you must not act as the Responsible Person, and must not sign a bail undertaking. 

    Should a child in the CEO's care  be granted bail, WA Police should be informed that the child's District CPW or an officer from the District office, is the Responsible Person and accountable for any decision-making inlcluding signing the bail undertaking.  This is called the 'Responsible Person Undertaking - CPFS Only' (Bail) of a child in the CEO's care.  Outside of business hours, the Crisis Care Unit have this responsibility. 

    You are to inform the Responsible Person that WA Police are to record that the child is to 'reside at an address arranged by Communities' on the bail form.  The Responsible Person is also to be made aware of any bail conditions that are not viable within a residential group home.   Refer to the current Casework Practice Manual entry 3.3 Young Offenders - including children in the CEO's care. 

    On occasions young people have conditions attached to their bail.  The principles of managing challenging behaviour are the same for children on bail as they are for all children living in residential care.  This includes assessment of appropriate situations for staff contacting WA Police.

    It is the child's CPW who, as the Responsible Person, is responsilble for any decision regarding Withdrawal of Responsible Person Undertaking (Bail).   


    Child Attending Court

    The District CPW should accompany a child at court and act as the Responsible Person. 

    In the event the District CPW is not available, another worker is to be identified by their District to act as the Responsible Person. 

    As a residential care worker, you must not act as a Responsible Person in the court process.  

    You may be requested by the District CPW to accompany the child as additional support on the day, and to assist with transport to and/or from court.  In this event, you must assess the needs of the home in consideration of the capacity to provide this support.  


    Community Service Work Orders

    The Court or Juvenile Justice Team (JJT) may impose an order for a child to complete community service hours.  It is not appropriate for this work to be undertaken by the child at a residential care home, or for you to supervise this work.  Such requests by the Court or the JJT should be declined.   If there is insistence, the Department's Court Officer will advocate on behalf of Residential Care.

    You should encourage and support children who are given Intensive Youth Supervision Orders (IYSO) and Youth Community Based Orders (YCBO) to adhere to their conditions.  However, the responsibility for the management and supervision of these orders remains with the Department of Corrective Services.