MINOR MISBEHAVIOUR

Youngsters again get out of hand at Perth’s juvenile detention facility:

Three young offenders have caused thousands of dollars of damage to Banksia Hill Detention Centre, trashing an office, administration area and teaching unit as well as setting several fires.

A spokesman for the Department of Fire and Emergency Services said they were called to the Canning Vale facility just before 10pm on Friday.

“We had five fire trucks and two supports vehicles there,” he said.

“They had to hang around until they were escorted in when they put out the fires.

“They left around 12.40am. The incident caused around $10,000 damage.

“While the escapees trashed various rooms, staff were told to lock themselves in wherever they could.

“Staff turned off lights and were left hiding in offices while the detainees tried to set fire to offices around them.”

The union claims there were no recovery/emergency response teams on site at the time and that the incident was only brought under control when police arrived.

ABC News reports that no outside assistance was needed:

Juvenile detainees at Perth’s Banksia Hill detention centre have been involved in a disturbance at the facility for the third time in five weeks, damaging a building.

Police and firefighters were called to the centre at 10:00pm following reports of unrest.

A Department of Corrective Services spokesman said a section of the centre was damaged by three inmates, who had gained access to a part of the prison and grounds they were not supposed to be in.

Detainees also set fire to some paper, but it was quickly extinguished and no damage was caused by the blaze, he said.

The department’s Special Operations Group were called in to deal with the disturbance.

“[The] incident was resolved peacefully by Banksia Hill staff without any force,” he said in a statement.

“Emergency services attended as a precautionary measure, which is standard practice.”

Regardless, there have been multiple disturbances this year, and a destructive riot in 2013, so there’s obviously a problem with detained kiddies.

The Community and Public Sector union reckons a shift to a “warm and fuzzy” approach to the handling juvenile offenders is a problem:

CPSU assistant secretary Michelle Sheehy said Banksia Hill was undergoing a “transformation process”, which involved a softer approach with detainees. She said officers agreed in principle with an approach centred around rehabilitation, counselling and education, but there had been less harsh penalties for misbehaviours and detainees appeared to be taking advantage of the “soft-handed” approach.

The government, hoping to avoid costly legal action for a less than caring handling of young criminals, disagrees:

The departmental spokesman said many of the inmates at Banksia Hill came from dysfunctional families.

“As a result and from time to time, as in all similar environments, they can act out and test boundaries. Last night’s incident is an example of this,” he said.

“We need to continue to rehabilitate, support and encourage young people in our care. Trust is vital in achieving this.”

Children – a 16, 17 and 18 year-old – please don’t “act out”, it’s not nice.

Update: One of the kiddies is apparently a repeat offender:

Ms Hendon [CPSU] said 22 detainees were being escorted to their units after a movie night when three absconded.

She said the boys aged 16, 17 and 18 years old trashed an office, administration building and teaching unit by smashing windows and doors and used a lighter and a can of accelerant to light several fires.

She said staff were told to lock themselves in wherever they could, while the fires were set around them.

Ms Hendon the 18-year-old had been reported several times for assaults and damage within the centre.

In a statement, Corrective Services Minister Joe Francis said it was “not an issue of understaffing or overcrowding, it is an issue of a few individuals behaving badly”.

If there aren’t enough staff to handle a disturbance then it is an understaffing issue.

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