‘Totally inadequate’ security at Alice juvenile detention centre

p2418 Royal Tasker 2 300By KIERAN FINNANE

 

Evidence to the Royal Commission from training officer Derek Tasker at the Alice Springs Juvenile Detention Centre was interrupted this afternoon  just as he was about to give detail on the centre’s weak points making it vulnerable to escapes.

 

Mr Tasker was complaining  that its poor security record was down, at least in part, to infrastructure. He estimated there had been some 20 escapes from the centre since it opened.

 

He said the fenceline is “totally inadequate” and that it’s  got to the stage where the government needs to be advised that something needs to happen.

 

Part of his concern was the way escapees were exposed to police pursuit, including the use of police dogs. He described a recent escape involving three detainees, where a police handler let a dog go, and “the young fella” was bitten on the leg and wrist. He had to be operated on that night.

 

The detainee may have done the wrong thing but he should not have been put in that position, said Mr Tasker.

 

He wanted to point out deficiencies in the building itself, when Solicitor-General for the Northern Territory Sonia Brownhill interrupted, invoking a “public interest immunity concern”.

 

Commissioner Margaret White agreed that escape routes should not be identified. Counsel Assisting Peter Callaghan changed the topic.

 

p2344 Voller 1Mr Tasker, whose name, since the airing of Four Corners’ program Australia’s Shame in July last year, is strongly associated with events involving Dylan Voller while in detention (including that shown in image at right), is still employed at the ASJDC. In fact he is in charge of training of its new recruits.

 

While Dylan Voller has given his evidence to the commission, it is proposed that the evidence in response to it from various employees of the Territory be dealt with at a later stage.

 

Mr Tasker was questioned today particularly about how he handled, while Officer in Charge at the ASJDC, complaints from a female officer about sexual harassment. Her complaints included that another officer, a man, was making comments of a sexual nature to detainees.

 

Examples: “You just want to touch my dick, you’re gay”; “Great [re a task completed], now do it without pants”; comments about dildos and vibrators.

 

Mr Tasker couldn’t recall although the complaints were contained in an email chain which he had annexed to a recent statement.

 

Memory refreshed, Mr Tasker said he raised concerns with the staff member and with his superiors in Darwin.

 

The mail chain reveals he told the officer a formal caution was warranted and that the officer replied: “I understand, I will keep my mouth closed”. He also brought to Mr Tasker’s attention that he was not the only staff member “talking like this”.

 

What further enquiries did Mr Tasker make about this?

 

He couldn’t recall, but did think the Deputy General Manager, Michael Yaxley, came down from Darwin to handle the matter.

 

It was put to Mr Tasker that investigators into one incident concerning Mr Voller said of him (Mr Tasker) that he had “little to no knowledge” regarding juvenile detention policy and procedures.

 

Mr Tasker disagreed with this assessment. He might not know them word by word but they were there in the office to access if he needed them; in his 20 years in the system he had never known anyone to be aware of all of them.

 

He will return to the stand tomorrow.

 

Today’s session concluded with the commissioners warning against intimidation of any witness or intending witness.  They were aware that some young people, both in and out of detention, may be being subject to intimidation, which is a serious offence, punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment.

 

Sarcastic and negative comments could be seen as intimidatory and self-righteousness would not be a good explanation for making them, the commissioners warned.

 

They are also concerned about confidentiality breaches.

 

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Major reforms underway in youth justice, child protection

 

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4 Comments (starting with the most recent)

NB: If you want to reply to a previous comment, start your comment with this notation: @n where n is the number of the comment you want to reply to.
  1. Nocureforstupidity
    Posted March 16, 2017 at 10:23 am

    Ms Finnane, my sincere apologies on the gender mistake, that is embarrassing. I could say in my defense that the only other Kieran’s I know are male, but that is no defense at all, just an erroneous assumption.

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  2. Kieran Finnane
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 8:30 pm

    @ Nocureforstupdity: I fail to see the bias in the string of facts reported in the sentences you quote from this article, of which I am the author.
    You may be interested to know that I reported in detail on the “not guilty” findings for charges of aggravated assault against Mr Tasker and the reasons for those findings in both the Lower and Supreme Courts.
    You can see the report here: http://www.alicespringsnews.com.au/2016/07/30/actions-of-guard-found-to-ensure-safety-of-dylan-voller/
    You may also be interested to know that I am not a “he”.

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  3. Nocureforstupidity
    Posted March 15, 2017 at 7:03 pm

    “Mr Tasker, whose name, since the airing of Four Corners’ program Australia’s Shame in July last year, is strongly associated with events involving Dylan Voller while in detention (including that shown in image at right), is still employed at the ASJDC. In fact he is in charge of training of its new recruits.”

    Bias much. I am rather bemused by the preceding paragraph, does your writer set himself above the justice system or does your writer believe that he is judge, jury and executioner.

    Mr Tasker has twice been to court over these matters and has been found Not Guilty on both occasions so why wouldn’t he still be employed. Your writer has lost any form of professionalism with this simple example of personal bias.

    I may have this wrong but one always thought that a journalist was supposed to report the news without fear or favour and no personal bias, perhaps this is why I refer to him as “your writer”.

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  4. Nocureforstupidity
    Posted March 14, 2017 at 10:52 pm

    Can’t wait for this farce to finish so the little angels can go back to doing whatever they please without fear of consequences.
    And while we are at it, let us crucify those unlucky enough to work with these little angels.

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