The Closure of the Courts to the public with only those required to attend being permitted access means there is a need to ensure that our vulnerable young people are not appearing in court without support.
With the assistance of the Ministry of Justice, Oranga Tamariki, and Police, a process has been developed which allows primarily for remote attendance of whanau/caregivers but which allows for actual attendance where technology is not available.
I attach the process map.
Under current arrangements all cases where a young person is not in custody have been adjourned and the Youth Court is only dealing with priority proceedings for those on remand in custody or subject to a custodial order, and those who have been arrested. For those already in custody, hearings such as Early Release, EM and other bail applications or disposition are scheduled in advance and arrangements can more easily be made for attendance. Youth Advocates are able to make application for support attendance by email to the relevant generic court email. The application will be referred to the Youth Court Judge for directions.
In any application you will need to state who seeks to be present and their relationship to the young person and whether they have the capability to join the hearing remotely either by AVL or by phone. If they do not then the application should seek physical attendance. Even where there is technical capability to join remotely there may be other reasons why actual attendance is requested. These circumstances need to be set out.
In the case of an arrest time will often be short. The young person will be brought physically to a court by Police but there may be little notice to the Youth Advocate, and it may be a Duty Youth Advocate, or Duty Lawyer who appears at short notice. The young person in these circumstances will likely be very vulnerable and it is a time when the most support is necessary.
Oranga Tamariki will have been advised by Police of the arrest and Oranga Tamariki have agreed to assist the whanau/caregivers in making application to attend the hearing remotely or in person. Oranga Tamariki will email a request to the Court where support is requested.
In all cases the Judge’s direction will be emailed to whoever has made the application and where physical attendance has been allowed arrangements for entry to the court will be advised.
I hope that this process will allow for young people to feel supported in the Youth Court and also allow for important information from whanau to be shared directly with the Judge when decisions are being made. The process may well need refinement when we see how it operates in practice and I encourage you to advise your Youth Court Judges of any difficulties encountered.
Thank you all for the work which you continue to do for our young people whose vulnerabilities are certainly not lessened in the current situation.