New Zealand Police v KS  NZYC 27
Published 16 May 2019
Application to dismiss charges — failure to comply with timeframes for holding family group conference — unlawfully taking a motor vehicle — reckless driving — failing to stop — burglary — Oranga Tamariki Act 1989, ss 5, 247, 249.
Counsel for the young person, KS, applied to have four charges dropped on the basis that Oranga Tamariki (Ministry for Children) failed to comply with the statutorily defined time-frames for convening and and holding a family group conference (FGC). Under s 249(4) of the Oranga Tamariki Act ("the Act") an FGC is to be convened not later than 7 days after the FGC direction was given if the young person is detained in custody. If the young person is not detained in custody, the conference must be convened within 14 days of the direction having been given. Section 249(6)(a) of the Act requires the conference to then be completed within seven days of being convened, unless there are special reasons why a longer period is required. In the event of delay, if the cause and consequences of failing to comply with the time-frames involve an unacceptable intrusion into the rights of the young person, it is appropriate to dismiss the charge.
KS had begun a rehabilitative programme and his youth justice coordinator delayed the FGC so that he could complete it without interruption. The youth justice coordinator discussed this with KS's mother but failed to keep counsel informed.
The Judge found there was clearly a breach of the time-frames set out in the Act. The special reasons given by the youth justice coordinator were not good enough to render the delay compliant with the Act. In the absence of such special reasons, non-compliance may be excused if appropriate in light of the extent of the delay caused, the reasons for the failure to comply and the consequences arising from it.
As the delay was not overly long, the youth justice coordinator had KS's best interests in her mind at all times and KS suffered no detriment because of the delay, the delay in convening an FGC was excused. The application to dismiss the charges was dismissed.
Judgment Date: 23 January 2019.
* * * Note: Names have been changed to comply with legal requirements * * *