Government holds firm on Banksia Hill despite scathing report

 abc.net.au  7/18/2017 6:04:54 AM   Jacob Kagi and Eliza Laschon

Updated July 18, 2017 16:11:25

The WA Government has rejected calls for the state's juvenile jail to be shut down, despite admitting the system was a "dreadful mess" following revelations of high-rates of self-harm and detainee mistreatment.

Acting Premier Roger Cook confirmed the Government would not accept the recommendation by the independent Inspector for Custodial Services that the Banksia Hill Detention Centre be closed.

In a report that outlined evidence of inmate mistreatment, Inspector Neil Morgan urged the Government to house juvenile detainees in a series of smaller facilities, finding Banksia Hill was "failing the basics".

Mr Cook has conceded it was both "very concerning" and "very unfortunate" and also said the Government "regretted" what had occurred, but rejected calls for Banksia Hill to close.

"It is an important part of our correctional facilities," he said.

"It is not a great situation but is one we will not allow to continue.

"As we undertake ongoing policies to continue to improve that facility I'm sure we'll see much better conditions."

Mr Morgan's report detailed included hundreds of self-harm incidents in just 15 months, six suicide attempts and the use of "unprecedented" control measures — such as withholding food and the pointing of the laser sights and beanbag shotguns at detainees.

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It also detailed how CCTV evidence had disappeared, records had been falsely entered, inmates had not received their mandated time out of their cells and a girl was left to soak in her own urine after being confined to a cell with boys.

Mr Morgan was very critical of girls and boys being housed in the same facility, something Mr Cook said the Government was looking to fix.

"We are looking at ways to get young boys and girls out of the facility so we can get more appropriate accommodation," he said.

WA's Commissioner for Children and Young People urged the Government to house juvenile detainees over several facilities instead of one facility, describing the current setup as "silly".

Corrective Services Minister Fran Logan is on leave and Mr Cook insisted the situation did not require him to be called back to work.

Harsh approach set to continue

The report has drawn scrutiny on comments Mr Logan made after riots in May, in which he blasted the behaviour of detainees and vowed to deal with them "in a far harsher way".

But that "authoritarian" approach appears set to continue, according to Police Minister Michelle Roberts.

"Absolutely, there are some very serious offenders there," Ms Roberts said.

"Offenders who've committed atrocious crimes, sadly though they are mixed in with some offenders who haven't committed those serious crimes."

Topics: prisons-and-punishment, crime, states-and-territories, youth, perth-6000, wa, canning-vale-6155

First posted July 18, 2017 15:59:36

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