Supporting Young People in Police Interviews
Under Victorian law, police must have a parent or guardian present at police interviews with young people under 18. Where this is not possible, police must ensure the presence of an independent person. Currently, however, there is no legislation to clarify the role and responsibilities of the Independent Person nor legislation to require police to use a trained and registered independent person.
The Centre for Multicultural Youth, Youth Affairs Council of Victoria and other agencies partnering in the delivery of the Youth Referral and Independent Person program called for a Victorian Law Reform Commission project to clarify the role of the Independent Person (IP) and recognise that the IP role should be a supportive one. The final product of this project is the report Supporting Young People in Police Interviews, which you can read here.
Key recommendations of the report include:
- Changing the name from ‘independent person’ to ‘support person’
- Articulating the role of the support person in protecting young people’s rights in police interviews
- Building on the Youth Referral and Independent Person Program to establish the scheme in every police station across the state
CMY, YACVic and Smart Justice for Young People are delighted at the recommendations contained in the VLRC’s report. If implemented, these recommendations will clarify the role, rights and responsibilities of the IP and embed its administration within government. Ultimately, this will lead to improved protection of the rights of vulnerable young people in police interviews.