What is the Custody Notification Service?
The Custody Notification Service (CNS) was set up in 2000 in response to the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.
CNS is a 24-hour legal advice and RU OK phone line for Aboriginal people taken into police custody. Under NSW law, Police must contact the ALS whenever they have taken an Aboriginal person into custody.
When the Police phone our CNS, our clients receive legal advice from an ALS lawyer, ensuring their fundamental legal rights are respected and less Aboriginal people are imprisoned.
● The ALS lawyer asks our clients: RU OK? Often, the answer is no. Threats of self-harm or suicide are common. Concerns about access to medication are common. Notifications of injuries that need to be examined by health professionals are also common.
● Our CNS lawyers are trained to carefully respond to these concerns to ensure police meet their duty of care to every Aboriginal person who is taken into custody.
● Our CNS lawyers can also contact the person’s family and an Aboriginal Field Officer, providing critical information to family who are concerned for that person’s whereabouts, health and safety.
● Aboriginal men, women and children in custody trust the ALS and share their medical or other concerns with the CNS lawyer, knowing their lawyer will advocate for their legal rights, health and family welfare.
Simply, the CNS is not just a phone line, it’s a lifeline.