This procedure relates to requests from Victoria police to release information about young people involved with the youth justice service.

 

When to use this procedure

When police have requested information about a young person involved with the youth justice service.

 

What else you need to know

 

Practice context and legislation

  • Youth justice and police have very different roles and responsibilities in relation to young people in the community, but there are many situations that require collaboration and understanding between the two services.
  • Youth justice workers may be approached by police to provide information about a young person such as:
    • a young person's address or contact details
    • information about a young person's peers or associates
    • information about a young person's substance use
    • dates and times for a young person's scheduled supervision appointments
    • a young person's release date from custody
    • a copy of a pre-sentence report to be released to police prosecutors.
  • On most occasions, police requests will be made via telephone. Best practice is to ask police to formalise the request in writing via an email.
  • The Information Privacy Act 2000 governs the circumstances in which youth justice can provide personal information to the police. The Health Records Act 2001 governs the management of health-related information.
  • When considering requests from police for information about a young person, the youth justice worker must balance the following factors:
    • protecting the rights of young people involved with youth justice
    • community safety
    • maintaining a good working relationship with local police
    • maintaining the youth justice role as distinct from the role of police
    • maintaining relationships between youth justice workers and the young person
    • privacy legislation.
  • The youth justice team manager has final discretion over requests for information from the police, except in cases where police have a warrant to obtain the information or the information has been subpoenaed. If any doubt exists about the validity or reasonableness of a police request, the team manager will consult with the Legal Services Branch.
  • Police may have a variety of reasons for requesting information about a young person and you have a responsibility to make sure the request is reasonable.
  • In most circumstances, if the request for information is reasonable, you should provide the information as requested. Alternatively, you may provide police with part of the information they have requested or make suggestions about other avenues to obatin the information.
  • Non-personal or de-identifying information, such as data or statistics, is not governed by the same privacy principles and can be shared with police upon request.
 

Roles and key tasks

Case manager

  • Receive verbal requests for information from police.
  • Ask for requests to be submitted in writing.
  • Identify whether the young person has provided consent for release of information.
  • Confirm whether the request relates to the purpose of collection.
  • Consult with team leader and assess whether information should be released to police.
  • Obtain authorisation to release information from team manager.
  • Provide information to police when authorisation is received.

Team leader / team manager

  • Provide consultation on, and endorsement of, decision to provide information to police.
  • Advise Assistant Director / Manager Individual and Family Support of decision to release information to police.
  • Consult with Youth justice Senior Practice Advisor in relation to young people exhibiting high-risk behaviour.

Assistant Director / Manager Individual and Family Support

  • Consult with team leader / team manager on requests to release information to police.
  • Provide oversight, direction and monitoring of the area youth justice program.
  • Provide case consultation regarding young people exhibiting high-risk behaviours.

Youth Justice Senior Practice Advisor

  • Provide consultation on requests to release information to police.
  • Provide case consultation regarding young people exhibiting high-risk behaviours. This should occur subject to local area agreements between Assistant Director / Manager Individual Family Support and the Senior Practice Advisor.
 

The procedure in detail

Requests from police

Requests for information about a young person currently involved with the youth justice service are received from police either via telephone, email or in person.

You should ask the police:

  • what information is required
  • the name, or names, of young people the request relates to
  • whether the information requested relates to a criminal investigation
  • the nature or seriousness of the criminal offence being investigated
  • if the information is required within a specific timeframe.

Document the details of the request in the young person's Client Relationship Information System (CRIS) file.

Receiving the request in writing

Unless the situation is urgent or life threatening, you should ask the police to forward the request in writing to the team manager of the area youth justice team for consideration.

This can be done via email or fax.

Consultation with line management

Where time permits, the worker will discuss the request with their team leader.

In all cases, the youth justice team manager will provide final endorsement, after advising the Assistant Director / Manager Individual and Family Support that the information will be provided.

The youth justice worker should cite the relevant legislation when explaining to police the need for consultation with line management.

Advising the young person

Depending upon the nature of the request, it may be appropriate to tell the young person that police are requesting information about them.

For example, if the police are seeking to interview a young person in relation to a criminal investigation, it may be appropriate to talk to the young person about the benefits of attending the police station voluntarily.

In this instance, you can offer to support or transport the young person. You must not assume the role of an independent person during interview.

As with all requests, if you are unsure as to the appropriateness of discussing the request from police with the young person, consult with team leader and team manager.

In the case of high-risk young people, consult with Assistant Director / Manager Individual and Family Support or Youth Justice Senior Practice Advisor.

Young person’s consent

If a young person gives their informed consent, you may disclose information to police.

Workers must ensure that the young person understands what information will be disclosed and that only the information requested about that young person is provided.

Disclosure of information

Youth justice may only share personal information about a young person with the police if it relates to the primary purpose for which it was collected.

For example, if youth justice has collected information about a young person's substance use for the purpose of referral to a support service, this information may only be disclosed for that reason.

Youth justice workers must use their discretion to determine whether or not the request for information matches the reason the information was collected.

If uncertain about the purpose of collection, consult with the team leader and/or the team manager.

There are a number of exceptions to allow for the release of personal information to police even if the information requested does not comply with the above primary purpose of collection rule.

Privacy principle 2.1 (g) of the Act (p. 78) makes it lawful for youth justice workers to disclose information about a young person where it is reasonable to believe that the information is necessary for the prevention, detection or investigation of an offence.

You must find out from the police why the information is required, and decide whether the information is reasonably required. The onus is on the police to provide you with enough information to form a decision.

Privacy principle 2.1 (b) of the Act makes it lawful for youth justice to disclose information about a young person if the young person has consented to the disclosure.

Under the Act the release or disclosure of information about a young person can also occur without the young person’s consent where there is a purpose to lessen or prevent:

  • a serious or imminent threat to an individual's life, health, safety or welfare
  • a serious threat to public health, safety or welfare.

It is important to note that there is no obligation for youth justice to disclose information if an exception applies.

If youth justice decides not to release the information, police can obtain the information via a warrant or subpoena.

When considering police requests for information, youth justice must make a decision based upon the best interests of the young person, taking into account the purpose of the police request.

Making a decision about the request for information

When considering whether or not to release information, the following factors could be considered:

  • the sensitivity of the information requested
  • the best interests of the young person
  • the seriousness of the criminal offence being investigated (if relevant)
  • the urgency of the request
  • risk to the young person and/or the community.

If a decision about the request can be made at the team leader level, the team leader informs the team manager to expect the request from police in writing and communicate the decision arrived at.

The manager may exercise discretion to not disclose the requested information, even if the disclosure is permitted by legislation.

If the manager requires further information or time to make a decision, the youth justice worker will communicate this to police.

The team manager may seek further advice about the request for information from the Department of Human Services, Legal Services Branch.

The team manager is to advise the Assistant Director / Manager Individual and Family Support, of the decision to release information, prior to doing so.

Communicating the decision to police

If the team manager makes the decision to release the information to police, the youth justice worker contacts police and passes on the requested information.

Information may be released via:

  • telephone
  • email or letter
  • in person.

If you are unsure of the appropriate medium to release information, consult with your team leader.

If the team manager makes the decision not to release the information requested communicate this to police in writing if possible, citing the reasons for the decision and the Information Privacy Act if appropriate.

Police youth resource officers

Police youth resource officers conduct a variety of programs for all young people within the community.

Young people who engage in these programs may also be subject to youth justice involvement.

The advice in this procedure applies to communication between youth justice workers and police youth resource officers.

Sex Offender Register

When a young person is registered under sex offender registration legislation, there are specific requirements that relate to the youth justice service as the supervising authority.

For specific instruction regarding this, see the Sex Offenders Registration Act 2004 and the procedure for the 'Sex Offenders Register'.

Youth justice reports

Copies of youth justice reports are not to be forwarded to police unless the young person has signed a consent form for the release of that report.

If a young person consents to the release of a report, the decision to release all information contained in the document is at the discretion of the youth justice team manager.

If youth justice decides not to release a report, the police can seek a copy by warrant or subpoena.

The above requirement also extends to police prosecutors.

Documenting decisions

Record all details of the request and outcome accurately in CRIS and, where appropriate, attach documentation to case notes.

Police participation in care team meetings

In some circumstances it is appropriate for police to attend a care team meeting for a young person.

When considering the appropriateness of police participation in a meeting, take into account the same factors when deciding to release information to police.

Before inviting police to a care team meeting, consult with the team leader or team manager to confirm the relevant aspects of case management for discussion in the meeting.

Alternatively, a separate meeting can be convened to discuss relevant case management matters with the police.

 

Additional information