Teen held in adult jail
14-year-old’s prison stay
A “REGRETTABLE” incident where a 14-yearold girl was kept overnight in an adult prison has been revealed.
The lock-up sparked a review of after-hours and on-call protocols, with improvements needed.
A GIRL spent a night in an adult prison because Tasmania Police was unable to contact an after hours youth justice worker, Tasmania’s Ombudsman has revealed.
The incident where a 14year-old girl named “Miss P” was kept overnight in the Hobart Reception Prison was highlighted by Ombudsman Richard Connock in his annual report.
Mr Connock said Miss P’s incarceration occurred when a Justice of the Peace refused to conduct an after hours bail hearing for the girl without a youth justice worker present.
However, when police prosecutors were unable to reach an on-call community youth justice worker the girl was placed in the Hobart Reception Centre. She was transported to Ashley Youth Detention Centre the following day where she appeared in court by video link.
Miss P complained to the Ombudsman, who asked for an explanation from both Children and Youth Services and Tasmania Police.
“A response was received from the Department of Health and Human Services which was then responsible for CYS, in which it advised that it was not common practice to hold young people at the HRP and the incident had been a regrettable one. It explained that Community Youth Justice had two after-hours contacts who could be reached when services were required by Tasmania Police or the courts.
It explained that although the Police Prosecution Services had attempted to call the first on call CYJ staff member, it did not attempt to call the CYJ area manager,” Mr Connock said in his annual report.
“Tasmania Police explained that it made several attempts by telephone and by text message to contact the CYJ on-call staff member and also the Child Safety Services manager prior to the scheduled court appearance without success.
“A second prosecutor, with more experience in youth justice matters, was able to contact the CYJ area manager to be present for the second court appearance.”
Mr Connock said following the incident, Tasmania Police had updated its contact list used by southern after-hours prosecutors.
“It was noted that the afterhours court times are determined by the Magistrates Court with Miss P presented to court at the earliest opportunity. The Ombudsman was satisfied that the process for after-hours contact between Tasmania Police Prosecutions and CYJ has been adequately reviewed,” he said.