Juveniles being detained at an adult prison in Perth should be released on bail with strict conditions until their usual facility is fixed, a top barrister says.
About 150 juvenile offenders are being housed in the high-security Hakea remand facility following a riot at the nearby Banksia Hill juvenile detention centre in January that left dozens of cells trashed.
Three separate inquiries are being held into the riot, which involved only a handful of inmates.
The list of repairs needed will not be finalised until the inquiries are complete, and there are concerns the juveniles could remain at Hakea for more than a year.
One of the inquiries has heard claims the teenagers are being abused by officers, denied visits, and were losing weight because of a lack of food.
The Department of Corrective Services said adult prisoners were being kept separate from young offenders.
But barrister Tom Percy QC says it’s a grave breach of human rights to make 14-year-olds live “shoulder-to-shoulder” with murderers and rapists.
“The Government really needs to look at what they’re doing,” Mr Percy told Fairfax Radio today.
“Having kids in there is an anathema to most people, I would have thought.”
Mr Percy suggested giving them bail with strict conditions including curfews, and encouraged the opposition to push for it.
Comment has been sought from the opposition.
Government MP Joe Francis, who has been given the corrective services portfolio, says the situation is not ideal and promises it will be a top priority once he’s familiar with the issue.
Mr Francis will be sworn in as corrective services minister today.