Human rights organisation urges Turnbull to protect WA children from 'failed' prison

 theage.com.au  7/17/2017 10:49:00 PM 

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull must intervene to protect WA children after a report revealed unprecedented levels of self-harm incidents in the state's only juvenile detention centre, Amnesty International says.

Inspector of Custodial Services Neil Morgan noted there were five attempted suicides and 191 cases of self-harm last year at the Banksia Hill Detention Centre, compared to 77 cases of self-harm in 2015.

This year so far, one detainee has tried to take their own life and there have been 76 cases of self-harm.

Amnesty International says the abuses are on the same level as Don Dale in the Northern Territory, which sparked a royal commission.

"Today's revelations are the latest in the avalanche of horrors spilling out from youth detention centres around the country," Roxanne Moore, Indigenous Rights Campaigner for Amnesty International Australia said in a statement.

The damning report into the Banksia Hill Detention Centre released on Monday revealed the facility had been an abject "failure.

WA's chief inspector of prisons Neil Morgan said given it cost $360,000 a year to keep just one child in custody "the community had the right to expect better levels of safety, stability and service delivery."

He criticised the Barnett government's decision to make Banksia Hill the state's only detention centre after closing the Rangeview juvenile remand centre in 2012.

Inspector Morgan said the current McGowan government needed to invest in better custodian services, but understood, given the state's debt it wasn't viable.

Mr Morgan said the "most tangible" evidence Banksia Hill was failing the "basics" was when the department sent in its Special Operations Group who used flash bombs, shotgun laser sights and chemical agent to quell riots between September 2016 and May 2017.

"In earlier incidents, firearms loaded with beanbags had been aimed at young people, but not fired," he said.

"Managing young people in detention will always be difficult. Almost all of them face complex layers of dysfunction, disengagement, and disadvantage. But the use of such weaponry to restore control was unprecedented."

- AAP, with Brendan Foster

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