Re VY [2020] NZFC 2619

Published 06 July 2020

Review of care arrangements — supervised care order — detention in secure care facility — unlawful detention — ultra vires — Intellectual Disability (Compulsory Care and Rehabilitation) Act 2003, ss 5, 9, 23, 64, 72, 74 & 76 — Criminal Procedure (Mentally Impaired Persons) Act 2003, s 25 — J v Attorney General [2017] NZHC 701 — Bennett v Superintendent Rimutaka Prison [2002] 1 NZLR 616 (CA) — RIDCA Central v VM [2011] NZCA 659. The care recipient, VY, was under an 18-month supervised care order under s 25(1)(b) of the Criminal Procedure (Mentally Impaired Persons) Act, after being found unfit to stand trial. 12 months into the order the situation was to be reviewed by the Court. VY's lawyer had been particularly concerned that VY had been placed in a secure facility rather than supervised care. By the time the hearing came around VY had been moved to supervised care at a different location and so the Judge approved his care plan. Although VY's individual situation was resolved and approved to continue, his lawyer still asked the Judge to decide whether a supervised care recipient can be housed in a secure facility or whether VY's detention in that facility was ultra vires. Management of the care facility said they kept VY in the facility as he got along with staff and the structure there seemed to suit him. As it met his needs they believed it was appropriate to care for him there. VY's lawyer noted that there may have been pragmatic reasons for placing him in secure care but believed it raised significant conceptual and jurisdictional problems that could lead to vulnerable people being placed in a type of facility different than that designated in a court order. The Judge found that VY's placement in a secure facility did not amount to unlawful detention. What was important was that VY was receiving supervised care as set out in the order. However, the Judge gave a warning against regularly placing supervised care recipients in secure care in case their rights or liberty were breached. Cases of this kind are to be assessed on their individual merits and there is not free rein for ‘administrative convenience’ to impact on the personal liberties of an individual subject to a supervised care order to house them automatically in secure care. Judgment Date: 22 April 2020. * * * Note: names have been changed to comply with legal requirements. * * *