Juveniles have started being shifted back to Banksia Hill detention centre this morning, nearly eight months after a riot forced their transfer to two units at a prison for adult men.
The Department of Corrective Services has confirmed that 24 juveniles are being shifted back to Banksia Hill today as it starts a gradual transfer program which is expected to take a few weeks.
More than 100 cells were damaged by about 70 juveniles in the January 20 riot, which left a repair bill of $3.23 million.
The extent of the damage at the State’s only detention centre for juveniles forced the department to set up two segregated units at Hakea jail, prompting controversy over the placement of the young people within the boundary of an adult prison and the conditions during their time in custody.
The move also highlighted long-held concerns about the conditions at Banksia Hill, where juveniles had been subjected long periods in lockdown and had restricted access to programs because of chronic staff shortages.
Today, acting corrective services commissioner Heather Harker said the return of young people to Banksia Hill marked the starts of a new direction and era in youth custodial services.
“Upgrades to cells and units have been undertaken to enhance the security of the site,” Ms Harker said.
“Additionally, existing fences have been enhanced and additional fences have been erected to consolidate the security of the unit precincts.
“A reform team has been reviewing and updating the youth custodial rules, operational procedures and unit plans, as well as developing and implementing a revised structured day for all young detainees.
"This week, new youth custodial officers commence training at our academy and will graduate in December to supplement existing staff.
“A lot of planning, reform and consultation has been undertaken to arrive at this point and I publically thank the staff along with those internal and external stakeholders who have played a part.”
Ms Harker said the return plan was subject to ongoing review based on factors including building work.
The Community and Public Sector Union, which represents youth custodial officers, welcomed the return of juveniles to Banksia Hill after delegates signed off on all essential requirements yesterday.
Branch secretary Toni Walkington said it was important the return had not been rushed as it could have compromised the safety of staff and detainees.
“Our preference has always been to get everyone back to Banksia Hill as soon as possible, but it had to be done right,” Ms Walkington said.
“Our delegates will continue to meet management on a regular basis to ensure that a staged return is conducted with the safety and security of staff and detainees being the main priority.”
An inquiry into the riot, the emergency response and the alternative arrangements for the juveniles by WA’s independent prison watchdog recommended major overhaul of youth justice services by setting up a stand-alone department or a youth justice commission similar to the mental health model.
An inquiry into the riot, the emergency response and the alternative arrangements for the juveniles by WA’s independent prison watchdog recommended major overhaul of youth justice services by setting up a stand-alone department or a youth justice commission similar to the mental health model.of Custodial Services Neil Morgan found the riot was “entirely predictable” after the department failed to manage a “tinderbox” environment at Banksia Hill over the preceding 18 months.