Former shift supervisor at Don Dale questioned on use of force 

p2418 NTRC Trevor Hansen 300 By KIERAN FINNANE

 

Late in his evidence to the Royal Commission former juvenile detainee Jamal Turner described a youth justice officer lifting other detainees off the ground with a manoeuvre he called “a wedgie”: it involved the officer pulling up “the jocks” of the detainee “to the back of his head”.

 

He said he saw this four to five times: “I thought it was normal.”

 

Was it a particular officer who did this? Yes, he said, he knew him by the nickname “Yogi”, describing him as “a big fella” with grey hair.

 

“Yogi” was next in the stand. Trevor Hansen (pictured), employed by NT Correctional Services from 1994 to 2014, eventually moving into shift supervisor position, agreed that was his nickname.

 

He is a big man, tall (185 cm), large framed, large in girth.

 

He didn’t care for the term “wedgie”. He called it rather a “one man escort”, then correcting himself: a “one person escort”. It involved holding the detainee’s shorts with one arm, their shirt at shoulder level with the other and “guiding” them forward.

 

He denied that the action would lift the detainee up, as it was all about moving them forward. If the shorts rose up “a little bit”, that was only “what was required” to move the detainee forward.

 

If he used the action, he would enter it in the “Use of Force Register”, saying “held by shorts”.

 

He was being questioned by Counsel Assisting, Peter Callaghan SC, who suggested making the entry in that register  meant that it involved force.

 

He had earlier questioned him on use of force in actions involving two 15 year old female detainees.

 

Mr Hansen had told the commission that he began his job, as junior justice officer, without training of any kind. Later he was trained in First Aid and in “cell insertion, cell extraction”.

 

“Years later” he undertook PART – “professional assault response training”, which was a two-day course, with refreshers every two years, in techniques to move detainees from A to B without hurting them and without being hurt.

 

In the first incident involving a young female detainee, she was misbehaving, by being verbally abusive, “abusing property” (which he agreed meant “trying to damage” property) and not following directions. He escorted her to the security unit.

 

Once there, part of the procedure was to remove her outer garments. Mr Hansen was in the company of another officer, a woman.

 

Where was this procedure written down? he was asked. In the “at risk procedure manual”. Its logic was not to give the detainee the chance to hang themselves or otherwise hurt themselves.

 

Was the detainee considered “at risk”?  No, at that time the removal of the outer garments was standard procedure in “cell placements”. Later the procedure would change for cell placements of detainees not considered “at risk”, said Mr Hansen, officers would keep an eye on them and only remove clothes if they became “fragile”.

 

Mr Hansen said that when this particular girl was asked to remove her clothing herself, he “offered to back away”, she was abusive, he asked her again, counted to three verbally and on his fingers, then walked in and restrained her while her clothing was removed by the female officer.

 

The restraint involved putting her first in an “arm lock”, while her shorts were removed, then in a “leg lock” while her t-shirt was removed. During this time the girl was being held down on the cement bed in the cell.

 

Mr Callaghan asked whether there were any guidelines about young girls being undressed by men, was it ever suggested by management that it was “inappropriate”.

 

Mr Hansen answered by saying it would depend on whether there were enough female officers rostered to allow it to be done by them, and repeated that “it was procedure”.

 

The young girl was clearly agitated, was she not? “She was agitated before and after.”

 

Would the procedure have increased her agitation. “Probably, yes.”

 

Was anything done to lower her agitation? Yes, he organised an officer to take an “at risk gown” to the girl.

 

Anything else? “Not at that stage.”

 

In the other incident, involving a 15 year old girl not following directions and physically resisting being pushed into her cell, there were records of injuries she sustained. Mr Hansen disagreed with the description in the records of his actions as being for “no appropriate reason”. The reason was that she was being “disobedient”.

 

He knew she was “sore” – “I was as well”.

 

She made a written complaint and as a result his actions were investigated internally. He was unaware if the police were ever involved in investigating the incident.

 

He described the situation as “a messy way” of putting her inside the cell: “It made me look at myself.”

 

Once again he had used a leg lock to restrain this girl. Again he was asked if anyone had ever taken issue with using such a manoeuvre on a 15 year old girl. No, he said.

 

Mr Hansen’s evidence is continuing this morning.

 

 

 

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3 Comments (starting with the most recent)

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  1. nocureforstupidity
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 11:57 am

    So are you putting your hand up to look after them or are you just another [person] hoping to prove your social conscience by pointing out “perceived” injustices without actually doing anything about it?
    You seem to have a remarkable amount of first hand knowledge but you don’t seem to have done anything about it.

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  2. Ray
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 10:41 am

    Wow, nice dramatic little story from Phil. Underground tomb? Blaze of harsh lights? Ha ha, must be a writers festival coming up.

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  3. Phil
    Posted March 14, 2017 at 5:31 pm

    A sad story but the greatest injustice in our correctional system is the treatment of disabled Aboriginal prisoners and especially those detained under an Administrative Order.
    The latter have committed only minor crimes but are deemed incapable of surviving in our society. They are a public nuisance.
    Their penalty is not just life in prison but life in the high security unit.
    Under the blaze of harsh lights and surrounded by the crackle of walkie talkies they live in a concrete underground tomb, G Block.
    Boiling hot in summer and bitterly cold in winter theirs is a harsh existence.
    Many of these prisoners repeatedly wail and call out to go home, to their communities and families.
    Typically they bash their heads on the steel bars of their cage until they are covered in blood.
    If they crack, as most do, and self harm they are subjected to powerful chemical restraints and are immobilised in the chair of Don Dale fame.
    It was for this group of prisoners that The Chair was first introduced.
    Remember they have committed no crime that would see them imprisoned for more than a few months, if at all.
    The longer they are held in these conditions they less likely they can ever be rehabilitated to live in society.

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