Today we gave notice of a bill that would require the Custody Notification Service (CNS) to be notified every time an Aboriginal person is detained. This was a recommendation of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.
Currently there is only a requirement to notify where a person is arrested and charged, and in August this year we saw the first death in police custody since the CNS was implemented when Rebecca Maher died in custody at Maitland Police Station. Ms Maher had been arrested but not charged and accordingly the police did not notify the CNS.
Greens MP and Aboriginal Justice Spokesperson David Shoebridge said:
“Closing the loophole to require the CNS be notified whenever an Aboriginal person is arrested will save lives. It’s that simple.
“The CNS continues to be an essential service to deliver legal advice to vulnerable people in custody.
“There are still far too many Aboriginal people in NSW police stations and jails and every one of them must be protected.
“Of course the long term solution is not to be arresting and jailing our first people at the current appalling rates, but in the meantime the CNS is an essential last line of defence.
“We call on all parties in the Parliament to commit to this essential reform,” Mr Shoebridge said.
The complete name of the bill is the “Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Legislation Amendment (Legal Assistance for Aboriginal Protected Suspects) Bill 2016”