The regime at Banksia Hill should be re-engineered so as to reflect a clear and consistent philosophy that accords with legislative requirements relating to juvenile detention. This philosophy should emphasise that the ultimate purpose is, as far as possible, to rehabilitate the young people and prepare them for release back into the community.
To that end, and in order to improve safety and security, there must be a stronger emphasis on the provision of a full and active regime and positive rehabilitative programs, including:
- skills training;
- recreation and sport; and
- counselling and offender programs.
The conditions of detention at Banksia Hill should be enhanced so as to meet improved standards of decency and dignity, including:
- minimisation of lockdown arrangements;
- cessation as far as possible of double-bunking (other than necessary buddy-cell arrangements);
- effective climate control measures, particularly in summer;
- improved dietary standards; and
- attention to standards of bedding and clothing.
The balance between physical, procedural and dynamic security should be re-calibrated in ways that are consistent with the above objectives and the Department should develop and promulgate a statement as to how these matters should be balanced.
The Department should review its criteria and processes for making security ratings, ensure that these processes are consistently applied, and spell out in Youth Custodial Rules or elsewhere the operational and regime implications for each level of security.
The Department must ensure that the Youth Custodial Rules and Standing Orders relating to Banksia Hill are brought fully up to date. It should also institute processes for ensuring that they are regularly reviewed, remain relevant to changing circumstances and effectively communicated with staff with the provision of appropriate training.
The staff culture in relation to dynamic and procedural security should be addressed as a matter of urgency, with a particular emphasis on training needs and ongoing reinforcement. Where appropriate, the Department should be prepared to invoke disciplinary provisions if individual staff members fail to comply with requirements.
Physical security assessments should be regularly undertaken at Banksia Hill by the Department’s Emergency Support Group or other independent experts. The testing should reflect practical risk not just the physical strength of a structure. Where weaknesses are identified, appropriate remedial measures should be taken in a timely way and in a manner consistent with detention centre philosophies. All decisions and actions should be clearly recorded.
It is recommended that the Department undertakes a comprehensive assessment of how dynamic, procedural and physical security weaknesses are contributing to the high number of roof ascents by detainees and implements appropriate remedial measures.
The Department should ensure that it engages proactively with the Department of Fire and Emergency Services with respect to fire fighting capability at every site where new units or fences have been built or where other major construction activity has occurred.
The Department should examine ways to enhance its intelligence capacity through improvements to proactive as well as reactive information gathering / analysis.
The Department should resource and develop the on-site Security Team at Banksia Hill. Subject to ensuring that juvenile detention facilities are not equated with adult prisons, enhanced central security expertise should also be provided.
In order to improve emergency management preparedness the Department should:
(a) ensure that emergency management plans at all adult and juvenile facilities are regularly reviewed, fully up to date, and include viable emergency evacuation plans; and
(b) Improve staff training in emergency management and keep clear records of the findings and recommendations arising from scenario training and reviews of critical incidents.
The Department should examine and implement improvements to its systems and processes for conducting safety and welfare checks of detainees and prisoners in the event of incidents of mass disorder such as that which occurred at Banksia Hill on 20 January 2013.
In order to improve its emergency management responses the Department should:
(a) Further develop its protocols regarding the roles of the on-site Superintendent and the Emergency Support Group (ESG) Superintendent, especially in situations involving a whole-of-site incident;
(b) Evaluate the resources needed by the ESG to improve response times at weekends and evenings; and
(c) In consultation with WA Police, evaluate the opportunities for improved site navigation capacity during emergency situations.
Staff generally, and the Primary Response Team (PRT) in particular, should be provided with better training for responding to unfolding incidents and de-escalation techniques. This should occur in the context of more general training in dynamic and procedural security (see Recommendation 6). The PRT should not be equipped with weapons such as batons, pepper spray and Tasers.
The Department should examine the lessons to be learned from events in the youth custodial system since 20 January 2013 with respect to recovery from emergencies. In particular, it should ensure that debriefs are organised for all staff and that longer term strategies are implemented to rebuild staff confidence and resilience.
The senior management structure of the Department should be reviewed with a focus on improving correctional outcomes, efficiencies and service delivery. This process will require external direction and needs to be commenced urgently. Depending on the results of this review, a revised structure can then be implemented soon after the appointment of a new Commissioner and in consultation with that person.
(a) Appointments to all management positions at Banksia Hill should be finalised; and
(b) Adequate head office support must be provided in areas such as finance and human resources.
There should be an independent review of FTE staffing levels in Youth Custodial Services, taking into account comparative data about the numbers and deployment of staffing in other Australian juvenile detention facilities and prevailing standards.
This needs to be undertaken as a matter of urgency.
The above review should examine the drawbacks and benefits of the 12-hour shift system currently pursued in the juvenile detention system and alternative models.
The above review should investigate the present arrangements for and use of personal leave and the causes for and impact of workers’ compensation claims in the Youth Custodial area.
The Department should ensure that structured formal performance reviews are regularly conducted with staff in order to identify areas for improvement and areas of achievement.
It is recommended that the Department review the adequacy of its policies, procedures and resources in the following areas: (i) case planning; (ii) occupational health and safety; (iii) the roles and training of unit managers; and (iv) the employment of more Aboriginal people, including as mentors for young people.
The Department should ensure that:
(a) The number of scheduled and unscheduled lockdowns of detainees is substantially reduced and that accurate records are kept of the reasons for any lockdowns and their duration;
(b) Detainee participation in education, rehabilitative and recreational programs is substantially increased in keeping with the Department’s standards for the management of youth custodial facilities; and
(c) Accurate records are kept with respect to each and every detainee of all of these matters.
Mechanical restraints must not be used as a routine measure to control the movement of detainees within detention centres. They should only be used following a proper assessment of the risk posed for and by the particular individual to be restrained in accordance with section 11D of the Young Offenders Act 1994.
The Department should review and alter its practices relating to the strip searching of detainees:
(a) To cease the practice of routinely strip searching detainees on every entry and exit to detention centres, particularly when they have been transported in a secure vehicle; and
(b) To ensure that strip searches in relation to social visits are not routine but are undertaken only on reasonable suspicion of contraband, assessed on a case by case basis.
The Department must improve the scope, detail, accuracy and availability of records across all aspects of youth custodial services.
It is recommended that the government conduct a high level review of expenditure on youth justice services across all agencies with a view to (i) gaining a more complete understanding of the full range and cost of services; (ii) appraising the balance between the budgets for custodial services, prevention and diversion schemes, and community-based supervision; and (iii) assessing future options.
It is recommended that the government:
(a) Develop plans and processes to transition youth justice services out of the Department of Corrective Services to an agency whose sole focus is youth justice; and
(b) To that end, establish either a Youth Justice Commission (modelled on the Youth Justice Board of England and Wales and the WA Mental Health Commission) or a stand-alone Youth Justice Department.
It is recommended that the government sets clear service and performance requirements for youth custodial services and ensures that these requirements are subject to external monitoring, assessment and reporting. These service and performance requirements should cover all relevant areas, including security and safety, detainees’ access to employment, education programs and recreation, lockdowns, and staffing levels, absenteeism and management.
It is recommended that government consider whether there are benefits in outsourcing some aspects of youth custodial operations, such as gatehouse security, allowing existing staff to be deployed to other areas.
Subject to its evaluation of performance by the Department of Corrective Services and to decisions regarding investment in new detention facilities, it is recommended that government consider whether a contestability model for youth custodial services delivery will lead to improved outcomes.
It is recommended that government develop a master plan regarding the best use of existing adult and juvenile custodial facilities. The key outcomes of this should include:
(a) Provision of a wider range of options for youth, in order to allow for the better separation of different cohorts of detainees and to provide improved services to target issues of age, gender, legal status, the needs of Aboriginal youth and youth from regional areas, and specific problems such as mental health;
(b) Improvements to the conditions and services provided to adult female prisoners; and
(c) Better targeting of the needs of adult prisoners in areas such as mental health / mental impairment.
It is recommended that the Department, drawing on experience with the Wandoo Reintegration Facility, develops new initiatives and injects the necessary resources into developing a sharper focus on the needs of young adult men and women held at prisons other than Wandoo.
Reforms and initiatives undertaken with respect to youth justice services should be underpinned by a focus on the needs of Aboriginal youth across the state, including innovative forms of engagement with Aboriginal organisations and service providers.