Security at Don Dale to be stepped up

Improved security cameras and electronic surveillance, better training and a full security audit have been recommended for the Northern Territory’s Don Dale Youth Detention Centre.


The Territory government has released a review of security arrangements at the controversial facility, which found a range of infrastructure and operational issues.

The government says it will move on improvements as a “matter of priority”.

Minister for Territory Families Dale Wakefield says the number of escapes at Don Dale in recent months is unacceptable and highlights the urgent need to address security problems.

“Every Territorian has the right to feel safe and expects their homes and businesses to be secure, especially from young offenders being held in detention,” she said on Friday.

Conditions inside Don Dale and the treatment of youths in the centre, east of Darwin, sparked the ongoing royal commission into juvenile justice in the Northern Territory.

Footage aired on ABC television showed inmates being tear-gassed, spit-hooded and shackled.

The review of the facility also came after a number of recent escapes, including in March and again earlier this month when two inmates fled through a window and were at large for more than two days.

It found that razor wire on the perimeter of the centre was not preventing escapes and described the effectiveness of electronic security equipment, including cameras, as dubious, with routine failures.

As well as infrastructure improvements, the review calls for more training for staff to better classify inmates, regular training exercises with police to improve the response to escapes, and the appointment of a security compliance officer.

Ms Wakefield said the government was not shying away from the work needed to fix Don Dale and the wider youth justice system, and work was already under way to implement the review’s recommendations.

“Improving services and facilities for youth in detention is one of many steps we are taking as part of our historic overhaul of the youth justice system,” she said.