WA police custody notification service begins operation today

Release Date: 
2 October 2019
Media release

The Morrison Government welcomes the commencement the custody notification service in Western Australia that will provide an essential safeguard for Indigenous people taken into police custody.

The service will be operated by the Aboriginal Legal Service of Western Australia (ALSWA) and from today, when police take an Aboriginal person into custody, including protective custody, they must call the custody notification service.

“The results leave no doubt as to the effectiveness of a custody notification service,” Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt said.

NSW implemented their service almost 20 years ago—back in 2000. Since this time and where the custody notification service has been used there has not been a single Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person death in police custody.

This requirement is mandated under a new regulation to the Police Act 1892 (WA). The service diverts to the phone of a rostered ALSWA solicitor, who then provides a welfare check and legal advice to the person in custody.

“Establishing a 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week custody notification service was a recommendation from the 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. The Morrison Government has encouraged all state and territory jurisdictions to establish a service including offering funding,” Minister Wyatt said.

“The service for WA is co-funded over the next three years, with the Morrison Government providing $2.25 million and the Western Australian Government contributing a further $606,000.”

Western Australia is the first jurisdiction to accept and progress a legislated custody notification service under the Commonwealth’s funding offer. The introduction of Police Regulations is an important step towards this.

“I’d like to acknowledge WA Attorney General, the Hon John Quigley MLA, and WA Minister for Police, the Hon Michelle Roberts MLA and Mr Dennis Eggington, CEO ALSWA for their leadership to establish the service,” Minister Wyatt said.