Youth Court: Letter to all Youth Advocates

Tēnā koutou,

Re: The Use of AVL for those in Custody and reducing appearances generally

The Youth Court must continue to operate even during Level 4 restrictions.  Protection of the vulnerable and liberty will continue to be key roles as for any court.  It is how we can continue to operate that I have needed to consider.

Dealing first with those young persons who are arrested and need to be brought before a Youth Court for consideration of bail.  Where facilities exist for the first appearance to be by AVL from the police station this is to be the default position.  Where AVL is not available the young person is to be brought to the nearest courthouse which is open and operating.

For those already in custody in Residences any appearance is to be by AVL.  This is to include all hearings affecting them including bail applications, early release hearings, secure care applications, and disposition hearings of all types.  Moving young people and their escorts from Residence to Court is too risky for all.  In many instances the Residence will be distant from courts and air travel would be required.

This will place an added burden on Court and Residence AVL resources and so we must continue to ensure that all appearances for those in custody are in fact necessary.  I ask that you consider whether you might ask for attendance to be excused where nothing substantive is to be decided and provide a memorandum to the Judge where that is appropriate seeking a direction.

In relation to Criminal Procedure (Mentally Impaired Persons) Act proceedings decisions will need to be made in each case as to how best to proceed.  Some young people may be in mental health facilities and need to have decisions made as to where they be cared for.  Special hearing arrangements will need to be considered and directions given by Judges.

In relation to all other Youth Court work I propose that, from 24 March all other cases for those on bail or at large, be adjourned on the papers to a date at least four weeks from the current court date.

All of these arrangements are to apply during the short interim stage 3 period and the stage 4 alert period.

Ngā mihi,

Principal Youth Court Judge John Walker
23 March 2020