Reply by Minister of Police N Mthethwa on questions posed in the National Assembly for written reply
7 Oct 2009
Question no: 1040
Mr S J Njikelana (ANC) to ask the Minister of Police:
(1) How many arrested juveniles were released into the custody of their parents during the period 1 January 2007 up to the latest specified date for which information is available;
(2) whether the South African Police Service (SAPS) collaborated with the Department of Social Development in this regard; if not, why not; if so, how?
(1) The term (juveniles) is no longer used in the South African policy and legislation that applies to children in the criminal justice system. A person under the age of 18 is defined as a child and over 18 as an adult.
The SAPS can, following arrest and prior to a first appearance in court, and if the circumstances as provided for in the relevant National Instructions and orders allow it, release a child in the care of his or her parents or guardian, with summons to appear in court. Information in this regard is recorded in the case docket with a copy of the relevant summons to appear in court.
This information is, however, not available on a central electronic database. In order to provide the information requested every police station will have to manually check its registers and dockets involving child offenders. This information will also have to be verified for correctness and completeness. This process represents a significant administrative burden that may impact on SAPS service delivery.
The release of a child into the care of his or her parents or guardian following a court appearance is based on the decision of the Court and is documented by court officials. This information should be obtained from the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development.
As part of the process to improve the information management and integration of information and information systems in the Criminal Justice system, and also to improve the inter-sectoral monitoring of the child justice system, specific improvements to information systems is currently under development that will, in future, allow more complete information to be provided.
SAPS policies and instructions require that detention of a child in police custody is only done as a last resort when there are compelling reasons for the detention of the child and no other facilities for children are available. As far as possible, children are released into the care of their parents or guardians with a summons to appear in court.
(2) The South African Police Service is represented on the Inter-sectoral Steering Committee for Child Justice (ISCCJ) at a national level and also on the corresponding co-ordinating structures at provincial level which are established in accordance with the (Interim National Protocol for the Management of Children Awaiting Trial).
The Inter-sectoral Committee enhances departmental collaboration in regard to the following:
* Effective inter-sectoral management of children who are charged with offences and who may need to be placed in alternative care.
* Appropriate placement of children in conflict with the law based on individual assessment.
* Correct utilisation of alternative care.
* The monitoring of children within the Child Justice System.
The South African Police Service must, when a child is arrested:
* notify parents or guardians about the arrest of a child.
* notify the parents about the time, place and date of court.
* consider the release of the child in custody of the parents, or person in who(s custody he/she is.
* ensure that the child is assessed by a probation officer as soon as possible.
In collaboration with the Department of Social Development, SAPS has communicated the availability of probation services at local level to provinces and police stations, to ensure that children arrested are assessed within in the required time frames. This information includes the relevant names and contact details of probation officers, venues where children can be assessed and probation services that are available.
In terms of the (Interim National Protocol for the Management of Children Awaiting Trial) the probation officer must, prior to appearance in court, hand over the assessment of a child in conflict with the law to the prosecutor, with recommendations in respect of suitable placement, including release in custody of parents or placement in secure care facilities.
Information regarding children in the Criminal Justice System is discussed on a monthly basis during ISCCJ meetings at National and Provincial levels. As part of this monthly meeting, services rendered to children are assessed and challenges identified. This includes challenges in regard to the availability of probation officers and facilities for detention of children and allows for Provincial Management to address problems immediately and for National Management to be informed to assist and intervene where necessary.
Issued by: South African Police Service
7 October 2009
Issued by: South African Police Service
7 Oct 2009
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