The review examined four months of data during which there were 139 attempted escorts from country and regional areas to Rangeview Remand Centre. Almost two thirds (64 per cent) of these were undertaken by commercial airliner, 15.8 per cent by air charter, 3.6 per cent by Police Airwing and 16.5 per cent by road. There were also 18 escorts of young people detained in Rangeview or Banksia Hill returning for court appearances in regional areas.
Young people involved in transfers from country and regional areas were overwhelmingly of Aboriginal background (122 of the 139). Almost all of the non-Aboriginal young people came from Bunbury or Albany.
The Service Level Agreement between Police and the Department of Corrective Services (DCS) defines expectations about timeliness of transfers to Perth, with escorts within country areas (defined as within 450 km of Perth) expected to be completed within 12 hours and escorts from ‘regional’ and ‘remote regional’ areas expected to be completed within 24 hours of notification being received.
We found that from November 2010 to March 2011, 74 per cent of regional transports and 70 per cent of country transports were being completed within the target timeframes. In terms of country locations, only 60 per cent of transfers from Bunbury, just two hours from Perth, had been completed within the 12 hour target and in one case a transfer had taken more than 24 hours. This meant that the young people in question were kept in a lockup even though they were only two hours from Perth.
We found that children in regional areas are very likely to spend at least one night in a police lockup after a request for transport was made. The position is particularly acute in Kununurra where almost three quarters of them spent at least two nights in the lockup after their initial court appearance. Young people arrested on the weekend often have to spend a night or two in custody before their initial court appearance, so some will have spent three or four nights in custody before being transported.
Overall, the young people interviewed for the purposes of this review were very positive about the experience of being transported by DCS staff, giving this a rating of 7.5 out of 10. They were positive about both the mode of transport and their treatment by staff.
They were less positive about their experiences of being transported by police and gave a very low rating to their experience in a lockup (just 3.3 out of 10). Their concerns about the lockup covered a whole range of matters, including the quality of food and bedding, the condition of the lockups, the threatening tone of graffiti, the inability to mix with others, lack of access to exercise, isolation from family and lack of access to lawyers.