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Greens amend Care of Children arrest powers

Thu, 4 Nov 2004

Greens amend Care of Children arrest powers

Green Party concern has led to the Government modifying its amendment to grant the Police extra statutory powers of arrest under the Care of Children Bill.

The Government had advanced the proposal in a Supplementary Order Paper to the Bill that requires Green support to be passed.

"The Greens are always opposed to the Police being granted new powers unless it is absolutely necessary and completely unavoidable. Adding extra statutory powers to arrest without a warrant is a particularly serious step," said Metiria Turei MP, the Green Party's Family Law Spokesperson.

"So, in discussion with the Government yesterday, we asserted that existing Police authority, including powers of arrest, can be drawn upon to enforce parenting orders and that extra or new powers are not necessary. Police already have a broad range of options to assist them in difficult situations and there is no reason that these cannot be used to 'give teeth' to the Care of Children Bill."

The new amendment negotiated by the Greens ensures that the Care of Children Bill is consistent and uses existing powers.

"The Greens recognise that parenting orders need to be enforceable, especially where there is a risk that a child may be removed from the country. A parenting order is an order of Court and is extremely serious. The integrity of such orders needs to be upheld if the interests of the child are to be truly paramount.

"So we are pleased that the Care of Children Bill rightly makes contravention of a parenting order an offence and that it enables the Police, a social worker and/or any other authorised person to obtain a warrant to enforce an order of the Court. Clause 71 makes it illegal for anyone to knowingly resist or obstruct the execution of a warrant to enforce an order. All these provisions provide critical deterrents to one parent attempting to breach the rights of the other.

"The Greens totally support both the civil rights of parents and the protection of the interests of children and believe both can be realised without compromising either," said Mrs. Turei.


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