Last updated 19 July 2016

A police officer may use reasonable force to enter and search a place (including land, premises, a vehicle, boat or aircraft) to have contact with the child if:

  • they have been denied contact with the child or cannot reasonably gain entry to a place where the officer reasonably believes the child is
  • they have a reasonable suspicion that the child may be at risk of immediate harm or is likely to leave or be taken from the place and suffer harm if the officer does not take immediate action.

The officer may remain in the place and have contact with the child for as long as the officer reasonably considers necessary for investigating the allegation (s 16 Child Protection Act 1999 (Qld) (Child Protection Act)).

Contact with a child at a school, kindergarten or day-care centre

During an investigation of an allegation of harm to a child, a Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services (Child Safety) officer or police officer may have contact with the child at a school, kindergarten, day-care, or at another place where education and care or regulated education and care is provided without the child’s parents or long-term guardians being told about it, if they reasonably believe:

  • it is in the child’s best interest that they have contact with them before the child’s parents or long-term guardians are told about the investigation
  • the child’s parents or long-term guardians knowing in advance about the proposed contact with the child is likely to adversely affect or otherwise prevent the effective conduct of the investigation (s 17 Child Protection Act).

Child Safety custody

A Child Safety officer or police officer can take a child into Child Safety custody for up to eight hours if they reasonably believe:

  • the child is at risk of harm
  • the child is likely to suffer harm if the officer does not immediately take the child into custody (s 18 Child Protection Act).

The officer must then:

  • as soon as possible apply for either a temporary protection order or a temporary custody order
  • if reasonable, also arrange for a medical examination or treatment of the child
  • as soon as practicable, take reasonable steps to tell at least one of the child’s parents or long-term guardians that the child has been taken into custody and the reasons for it (s 20 Child Protection Act).

Moving a child to a safe place

During an investigation of an allegation of harm to a child, if the child is under 12 years of age and a parent or family member cannot be contacted, the child may be moved to a safe place. This is a temporary arrangement for children who do not need to be taken into custody and will only continue until the child’s family can resume the care of the child. An example would be where a child has been left at a day-care centre or after-school care facility that is about to close, and no-one has collected the child (s 21 Child Protection Act).