Annual Report 2017-2018 OmbudsmanNT
Tabled paper 934
Tabled Papers for 13th Assembly 2016 - 2020; Tabled Papers; ParliamentNT
Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory under Standing Order 240. Where copyright subsists with a third party it remains with the original owner and permission may be required to reuse the material.
73 The youth was arrested for breach of bail and spent the night in custody before the error was identified. The case clearly pointed to deficiencies in police and court record systems. The youth was not acting contrary to his bail conditions. By the same token, the officer was acting on the result of a search of the IJIS system. The case raised a concern regarding the need to arrest the youth. Arrest should always be an option of last resort and section 22 of the Youth Justice Act provides that a youth should be charged by summons except in certain cases. The arresting officer pointed to a concern that the youth had a propensity to commit property offences at night and believed if he wasnt arrested it was probable he would reoffend that night. The investigating officer determined that the actions of the officer were reasonable but adverted to a general email from the Officer in Charge of the Judicial Operations Section containing advice regarding considerations for arrest over summons, in particular regarding youths and the use of arrest as a last resort. The investigating officer recommended that the email be sent as a Broadcast to all NT Police. In this case, the youth was at a family residence. In a situation where family members had immediate care of the youth and were stating that he was in line with his bail conditions, it would have been far preferable to leave the child in that environment, make appropriate checks and, if necessary, take further action the next day. In the course of the investigation, my Office pointed to the recommendations of the Royal Commission, particularly relating to the Bail Act and guidelines regarding bail curfew checks on youths. The investigating officer indicated that implementation of those recommendations was being undertaken on a whole of agency and whole of government basis. Case 8 - Arrest and confiscation of property The complainant was approached by police in the city centre. They believed he was attempting to hide something under his clothing. He showed them an unopened bottle of alcohol and told them he was going to drink it at a relatives residence in another suburb. He became agitated and told them he had not stolen the bottle. The Police required him to put the bottle down, took it, opened it and emptied it. In the course of this interaction, the complainant became abusive and was waving his arms about. Police decided to arrest him for disorderly behaviour in a public place. They placed handcuffs on him and took him to the watchhouse. The option of issuing an infringement notice at the watchhouse was considered but rejected. Police Bail was refused because of a history of not attending court. A Bail review conducted by a Local Court Judge confirmed that he should remain in custody overnight. The next morning, the Judicial Operations Section reviewed the case and determined that no formal charge would be laid. The complainant was eventually released by the Court at noon that day without a charge having been laid. The investigating officer found that there was insufficient evidence to sustain an allegation of wrongful arrest. She concluded that the failure to proceed to prosecution arose primarily through a failure on the part of the arresting officers to fully describe the circumstances that led to the arrest. She recommended that the officers be given remedial advice in regard to preparation of comprehensive documentation supporting prosecution. She also found that there was insufficient evidence to sustain the complaint of continued unlawful detention on the basis that Police did not have the power to override the decision of the Judge.