1. Apply for a warrant

1.1 Determine whether a warrant is required

Under the Child Protection Act 1999, sections 171, 172, 173, 174, apply for a warrant to apprehend a child when a child:

  • is subject to a child protection order granting custody or guardianship to the chief executive but the chief executive has not been able to take the child into custody
  • has been unlawfully removed from a person's custody or guardianship, under the Child Protection Act 1999
  • has been lawfully removed from a person's custody or guardianship, under the Child Protection Act 1999, but has been kept beyond the agreed period.

The Childrens Court needs to be satisfied that one of the above circumstances is applicable in order to issue a warrant.

A warrant cannot be obtained if the child has moved of their own volition, for example, a young person has left the place where they are living of their own accord and returned to the parents home, refer to  Chapter 5, 4. Conclude the child's placement in an out-of-home care.

Prior to making an application for a warrant:

  • attempt to negotiate with the person for the return of the child and explain they are in breach of the child protection order
  • attempt to gather information regarding the whereabouts of the child
  • discuss whether an application for a warrant is necessary with the team leader and court coordinator, if applicable
  • file a missing persons report if the whereabouts of the child are unknown and it is considered appropriate.

For an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child, consult with the recognised entity to gather information about the child and their family, and any assistance they can provide to negotiate with the person or family. For further information on decision-making in relation to an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander child and working in partnership with the recognised entity, refer to Chapter 10.1 Decision-making about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and the practice resource Working with the recognised entity.

1.2 Complete the application

When a decision is made to apply for a warrant:

  • complete a written and sworn Form 27 - Application for warrant for apprehension of a child and make an application to the Childrens Court
  • clearly state the grounds on which the application is made, including:
    • the child's circumstances, the type of child protection order and the placement and family contact arrangements
    • any relevant concerns about the immediate health or well-being of the child, for example, dependence on regular medication
    • any documentation that was provided to the person who has apprehended the child, for example, a copy of the child protection order and a copy of the case plan outlining placement and family contact arrangements
    • whether the person who has apprehended the child has participated in previous discussions about the placement and family contact arrangements
    • attempts that have been made to negotiate the return or recovery of the child

In urgent or other special circumstance, for example, a remote location, an application for a warrant may be made by phone, fax, radio or another form of communication. The Childrens Court must be satisfied that it was necessary to make the application by this means.

Duplicate warrant

Where the Childrens Court has issued a warrant, but a copy cannot be physically provided due to urgent or other special circumstances, the Childrens Court will inform the officer of the date and time the warrant was issued, and any other terms of the warrant. Complete a blank Form 28 - Warrant for apprehension of a child and include the information from the Childrens Court.

In this circumstance, send the Form 28 - Warrant for apprehension of a child, along with the Form 27 - Application for warrant for apprehension of a child to the Childrens Court, as soon as practicable.

A duplicate warrant is as effectual as the original warrant.