Long-awaited Custody Notification Service fails to meet overwhelming need: Greens

Greens spokesperson for Corrective Services Hon Alison Xamon MLC has expressed concern about the state’s fledgling Custody Notification Service (CNS), following revelations that the service spoke to just 57% of Aboriginal people in custody, since it began operating in October 2019.

Hon Xamon said she revealed through questions in Parliament that the CNS received 7961 calls from WA Police between 2 October and 31 December 2019.

She said it was disappointing to learn that not only was the rate of contact so low, but more than a quarter of calls from police were missed.

“The sheer number of people being taken into custody in such a short period in itself is extremely concerning – but it also highlights the importance of ensuring CNS is done right,” Hon Xamon said.

“I was very disappointed to learn that 27% of calls to the CNS were missed in that first period of operation.

“This shows that the service was not initially allocated the resources that it so clearly needed.

“This is an absolutely crucial service which can potentially save lives – and one that was first recommended 30 years ago.

“Now that it is finally in place – it is crucial that we ensure it is operated efficiently and receives adequate funding.”

Hon Xamon acknowledged that the State and Federal Governments had since boosted funding levels.

She said she would continue to monitor the service closely.

“CNS staff serve a range of important functions, from carrying out health and welfare checks, to providing basic legal advice including for matters which disproportionately affect Aboriginal people, like fine default.

“We should never forget that this service implements one of the long overdue recommendations from the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.”