From Academic Kids

The Tipstaff itself is just a truncheon or rod. Historicially it was hollow at one end so that the warrant of authority (the forerunner of all Warrant Cards or Police ID badges) which gave the policeman his authority could be contained inside. Examples remain at the Metropolitan Police museum in London and vary depending on the type and rank of officer. These tipstaves were first carried in the late 1700's and early 1800's. When detectives (in plain clothes) were first authorised the tipstaves issued to plain clothes officers from 1867 were re-issued in 1870 engraved "Metropolitan Police officer in plain clothes".

The Tipstaff is now also the name of an official (and office) of the High Court of Justice of England and Wales and in the courts of Northern Ireland. In Northern Ireland the Tipstaff is a basic usher who runs minor errands for a judge.

The role of the Tipstaff in England and Wales is more senior and is, in summary, to deliver persons to the court, prison or elsewhere as ordered by a judge of the High Court.

The Tipstaff is therefore involved in child abduction cases and mental health cases, usually to deliver the child or patient to safety. He is also involved in Contempt of Court, or other situations where a Bench Warrant has been issued for the arrest of any person and otherwise as directed by the court.

In child abduction case there may be a 'seek and locate' order backed by a Bench Warrant ordering any person with knowledge of the child to give that information to the Tipstaff or his deputy or assistants. Related orders may require the alleged abductor to hand his passport and other travel documents to the Tipstaff, and order the Tipstaff to take the child and deliver him/her to a designated place. There may also be a 'port alert' executed by the Tipstaff, to help prevent the child being taken abroad.

In the case of children who have been declared a ward of court i.e. cases where the court is acting in loco parentis the Tipstaff has a role in ensuring that those children are delivered to the locations specified by the court.

The tipstaff gets a mention in literature: there is a reference to the Tipstaff in The Pickwick Papers and The Aubrey-Maturin series.

In some states of the United States, the Tipstaff is called a Tipstave and is responsible for courtroom decorum.

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