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Estimates: Unlawfully detaining kids in watch houses

During Parliamentary Budget Estimates on Wednesday 9 August 2023, I asked how many children have been unlawfully detained in watch houses over the past five years. 

You can read the answers below or in the official Queensland Parliament Record of Proceedings (Hansard).

Mr BERKMAN: Commissioner, I am sure you are aware that last Friday the Supreme Court found that three children were being unlawfully held in police watch houses because there was no order permitting their detention in a watch house. Based on that decision, can you advise the committee how many children have been unlawfully detained in watch houses over the past five years? If that is not a
figure you have to hand, what are you, together with the youth justice department, doing to audit the records and determine the extent of that practice?

CHAIR: There is an inference in that question, but, Commissioner, can you shed any light on it? Commissioner Carroll: I can shed light to add a part of that. Obviously as a result of those orders that was immediately rectified by the courts that day and the following day, so that rectifies everything into the future and those that were in custody, so that was pretty well rectified on those two days. What I cannot tell you at this stage—and we will try to get those numbers very quickly—is how many children that would relate to and how many children came into the watch house as a result of those orders previously.

Mr BERKMAN: Thank you. I would appreciate that. As a further related question, have you or has QPS sought any advice more broadly as to whether the practice of holding remanded children in police watch houses for extended periods is in and of itself lawful?

CHAIR: That is seeking an opinion.

Mr BERKMAN: Point of order, Chair—

CHAIR: You just asked whether or not the commissioner thinks it is lawful. That is—

Mr BERKMAN: No, I am sorry; can I clarify the question, Chair? The question was: has QPS or the commissioner sought advice as to whether that practice is lawful. I am not seeking an opinion; I am seeking to learn whether or not that advice has been sought.

Commissioner Carroll: We are currently getting Crown Law advice, but it was in relation to the initial action, and, if you recall, there was an action prior to that about the practicality of police holding children in watch houses. I would have to find out whether we sought advice on the validity of the orders because that sits obviously with magistrates under the Youth Justice Act, so I will have to get that for

Mr BERKMAN: Okay. I would appreciate that. Thank you

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