Police powers: Move children to a safe place
The Police are given special powers to prevent crime and protect the community. It is important to understand what these powers are and how to behave when the Police use these powers to avoid being charged with serious offences.
Special police powers to remove children and young people (under 18) to a safe place
Sometimes children and young people are out on the streets at night when they should be at home. Sometimes children and young people are found living on the streets as they have nowhere else to live or have left home and are staying with people without their parents’ permission. Sometimes children and young people are simply with a group of friends “wagging” school or hanging out together. In these situations, the Police and Child Protection Officers have special powers that do not apply to adults.
If you are under the age of 18 and found at any place other than your home and:
- There is no parent or adult supervising you;
- There is a risk to your safety; or
- You are an absentee student from school.
Then the Police or a Child Protection Officer can:
- Move you to a safe place such as return you to your home.
- They can use reasonable force to do this.
- Your responsible person (parent, guardian or relative) will be contacted to let them know where you are.
- Once your responsible person has been contacted, arrangements must be put in place to return you to their care.
- If your responsible person cannot be contacted, arrangements for your alternative care must be made until you can be returned to the care of your responsible person. You cannot be put in a Police lock-up or a
Department of Child Protection Secure Care Facility.
If you are being moved to a safe place and the Police or Child Protection Officer believe you are likely to:
- Be a risk to the health and safety of other people; or
- Cause serious damage to property.
You may be restrained using reasonable force and may be searched and anything of substance found can be taken off you.
The search must be done by Police or a Child Protection Officer of the same sex as you in the presence of at least one other adult but they cannot do a strip search or body cavity search of you.
Anything found which may be dangerous can be taken (e.g. knife, drugs, cigarette lighter, solvents, needles) or any other thing that is disposable and less than $30 (e.g. can of drink, hamburger). In some situations, the item taken from you will be returned at a later time.
Other police powers
The power to request your personal details: see our fact sheet.
The power to search you, your bags and your car: see our fact sheet.
The power to move you on: see our fact sheet.
The power to detain people who are intoxicated in public: see our fact sheet.
The power of arrest: see our fact sheet.
Check out the Youth Legal Service fact sheet: “Rights & responsibilities when encountering Police”.
Check out the Youth Legal Service fact sheet: “The Northbridge Curfew”.