This report examines the arrangements for transporting arrested children from regional Western Australia to the only secure facility able to detain them, located in Perth.
Naturally, it falls to the police to transfer children from the point of arrest to the nearest regional lockup. Traditionally, however, the police have been responsible for far more than this. This includes transporting children who have been remanded in custody or sentenced to detention from the regions to the Rangeview Remand Centre in Perth and, if required, transferring them from Perth to regional courts and back.
The Court Security and Custodial Services Contract which commenced on 31 July 2000 saw the private sector take on most aspects of adult prisoner transport including clearances from regional lockups and inter-regional transfers of prisoners. It was envisaged that the contractor would assume responsibility for regional transport of juveniles as part of Stage 2 of the contract. Apart from difficulties costing and scoping such a service, it is understood that juvenile justice authorities within the former Ministry of Justice also argued that young people were safest in the hands of public officers.
Previous reports by this Office have raised concerns about these traditional arrangements, including the use of unsuitable vehicles, and have made recommendations for review. The police shared similar concerns and were also concerned that such work was taking them away from core frontline functions.
In November 2010, WA Police and the Department of Corrective Services (DCS) began a twelve-month trial during which DCS took over responsibility transporting children to and from regional areas. This report, which is based on document reviews, interviews and fieldwork, provides an independent evaluation of this trial.