- Custody Notification Service (CNS) to be introduced in WA
- 24-hour welfare and legal advice phone line for Aboriginal people taken into police custody
- Federal Government to fund the Aboriginal Legal Service (ALS) to provide the CNS
- CNS a recommendation following the coronial inquest into the death of Ms Dhu
A Custody Notification Service which provides fundamental legal advice and a welfare check to all Aboriginal people taken into police custody will be operational in Western Australia before the end of 2018.
Police will be required to call a central number which diverts to the phone of a rostered solicitor, who will then undertake a welfare check and provide legal advice to the person in custody.
The CNS will not impact on the existing Aboriginal Visitors Scheme which provides support and counselling to Aboriginal people in police or correctional custody but does not operate as a mandatory notification service or provide legal advice.
Comments attributed to Attorney General John Quigley:
"This is an important service which would already be operating in WA had the former Liberal National Government not rejected the Federal Government's offer to fund the service.
"The Coronial Inquest into the tragic death of Ms Dhu recommended that the State Government give consideration to establishing a State-wide service to operate 24 hours per day, seven days per week.
"This distressing case drew national attention to the plight of indigenous people in custody in WA.
"More recently the case of Gene Gibson, who spent almost five years in prison after being interviewed without a translator, highlights the predicament of indigenous people intersecting with the WA police and justice services.
"The CNS is expected to reduce indigenous incarceration and remand rates, which the McGowan Labor Government is serious about addressing.
"I am pleased that the Commonwealth has agreed to fund the service directly to the ALS and removed the condition that it only be funded for three years."
Comments attributed to Police Minister Michelle Roberts:
"To access the CNS, police across WA will call a central number which diverts to the mobile phone of a rostered solicitor.
"Police will provide the solicitor with details of the person in custody and why, how long they have been in custody, whether bail is likely and any other pertinent information such as whether the client is intoxicated.
"The solicitor undertakes a welfare check on the client and details any concerns in relation to physical and mental health, including risk of self-harm.
"I thank the WA Police Force and Commissioner Chris Dawson for their support on the introduction of a CNS."
Comments attributed to Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt:
"The CNS will operate around-the-clock, 24 hours a day, seven days per week.
"It ensures Aboriginal people arrested and taken into custody receive welfare checks and legal advice at the earliest opportunity.
"Since the CNS was implemented in NSW in 2000, an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person has not died in police custody where the CNS has been contacted.
"We owe it to our indigenous community to introduce this important service.
"I have no doubt that the CNS will reduce the number of preventable deaths in custody and deliver better justice outcomes for WA's indigenous community."
Attorney General's office - 6552 6800
Police Minister's office - 6552 6900
Aboriginal Affairs Minister's office - 6552 5900