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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 11 Hansard (Tuesday, 22 September 2015) . . Page.. 3305 ..

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Deputy Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Health, Minister for the Environment and Minister for Capital Metro) (10.40), in reply: I thank members for their contributions to this debate and for their support of this bill. The government is committed to continuous reform and improvement of the territory’s statute book, and this bill brings forward changes to ACT criminal legislation as a response to a range of issues and concerns raised by a range of stakeholders in our justice system, including the DPP, ACT Policing and the Aboriginal Legal Service. Importantly, this bill provides extra protection and support to members of the community, such as young people, who may have particular needs when subject to the criminal justice system, and it will also enhance ACT Policing’s ability to identify younger suspects.

The Crimes Act will be amended to provide authority for police officers to take for identification purposes fingerprint, photograph or video recording, sample handwriting and voice recording material from suspects who are under 18 years of age. Currently no legislative provision permits identification material to be taken from a suspect under 18 years of age unless an application is made for a forensic order under the Crimes (Forensic Procedures) Act. The absence of such a provision prevents accurate and timely identification of suspects, which is critical and in the interests of justice, particularly at the point of arrest and charge.

Under new section 230A a magistrate’s approval is still required to take material of this kind from a suspect under the age of 16 years, a young person who is in an impaired state or a young person who is not in police custody. Police officers are authorised to take material without a magistrate’s order if the young person is 16 or17 years of age, was at least 16 at the time of committing the alleged offence, is in police custody and is not in an impaired state at the time the material is taken.

Where material is to be taken, a police officer must inform the suspect about the purposes for which the material is required, the offence which the young person is believed to have committed or is charged with and that the material may be used as evidence in proceedings in relation to an offence.

A police officer must allow someone with parental responsibility for the person to be present. If this is not practicable, a police officer must allow an interview friend for the person to be present when the explanation is given or the material is taken. As soon as practicable a police officer must take reasonable steps to tell someone with parental responsibility about the action that has been taken. This provision will allow police officers, with appropriate safeguards and controls, to obtain material to establish the identity of the child or young person who is suspected of committing a criminal offence.

The Crimes (Forensic Procedures) Act is also being amended to make three important changes in this bill. Firstly, a police officer will be required to notify the Aboriginal Legal Service when they intend to ask an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person to consent to a forensic procedure. This provides additional protection for that Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person who is required to undergo a forensic procedure under the act by ensuring that a responsible agency is aware that the process is occurring.

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