Marceau Work Programme - Referral to Regional Forensic Psychiatry Court Liaison Service

The Ministry of Justice is seeking the profession's views on one of Coroner Greig's recommendations following the inquest into the death of Christie Marceau.

The Ministry has requested feedback by 5 October. If you have any views on the referral process, including the referral form, please let us know by 30 September, and we will compile that information for the Ministry.

The recommendation

The specific recommendation focuses on information sharing between New Zealand Police, the courts and mental health services in the District Court. The Coroner recommended that:

"The Ministry of Justice and the Auckland Regional Forensic Psychiatry Service (if sensible in conjunction with other regional forensic psychiatric services in New Zealand) and the New Zealand Police:

  1. Work together to identify and agree on the baseline court documents forensic court liaison staff throughout New Zealand should routinely be provided (e.g . summary of facts/caption summary and POTB) to enable them to work effectively with offenders they are asked to attend or advise on; and
  2. Agree which organisation/agency is responsible for providing a full set of baseline documents identified above to the forensic court liaison staff and the process for, and the timing of, delivery (or provision of electronic or other access) of these documents to forensic court liaison staff."

The Ministry, Police, Ministry of Health, Waitemata District Health Board (DHB) and representatives from other DHBs have been working together in response to this recommendation. DHB staff advised the key piece of information missing for Forensic Court Liaison (FCL) staff to inform their assessments is the reason for the referral. In some cases, they have no information as to why their services have been engaged and often struggle to access background documentation when it is sought.

Joint agency response to the Coroner's recommendation

The joint agency response to the Coroner's recommendations focuses on improving the sharing of information to FCL staff to inform their assessments. This includes the:

  • introduction of a formal referral process to FCL staff for routine assessments (including a referral to Regional Forensic Psychiatry Court Liaison Service form)
  • the provision by the requestor or Court Registry at the time of the request (dependent on who made the referral) of a set of baseline documents to FCL staff undertaking these assessments.

Agencies consider that these new processes will assist those undertaking the assessment to understand the reason(s) for the referral to their services and the context of the alleged offending. It is expected that this will improve the overall quality of the assessments.

Impact on the legal profession

As part of this approach, where counsel seek a routine assessment to be undertaken by FCL staff, they must complete the attached editable PDF form. The form requires the requestor to:

  • identify the reason(s) for the referral
  • attach a set of baseline documents (summary of facts/criminal and traffic history/ police opposition to bail - if bail opposed)
  • provide the completed form and baseline documents to FCL staff.

The form also refers to "other" documents. This provides an opportunity for the requestor to provide additional documentation they may consider useful to FCL staff.

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