Teen put in spit mask at Qld centre

An outer fence at the Remand centre in Melbourne, Tuesday May 8, 2012. (AAP Image/Joe Castro) NO ARCHIVING Source: AAP

Footage of a teen being put in a spit mask at an adult correctional centre has raised new concerns about the treatment of 17-year-olds in Qld's justice system.

Queensland's Labor government is under mounting pressure to stop sending 17-year-olds to adult jails, after footage emerged of a young indigenous detainee being restrained and forced to wear a spit mask.

Footage taken in 2013 and published by The Courier-Mail on Tuesday shows a seemingly compliant 17-year-old indigenous detainee being handcuffed by six officers and put in a spit mask at the Brisbane Correctional Centre.

At no time does the teen appear to resist or display any violent behaviour, nor can he be seen spitting.

Peter Lyons, from the Prisoners Legal Service, uncovered the footage as it looked into the teen's treatment when the former LNP government was in power.

He's told the ABC the teen was observed pressing an intercom button incessantly and yelling under a door, but he later found out he was asking for more toilet paper for his cell.

"The next thing you see on the video is six officers entering the cell and asking him to kneel down and face the wall ..." Mr Lyons said.

"It ends up with him having hand cuffs attached to him and then placed on a restraining belt and then what's commonly known as a spit mask placed on his head."

Queensland's attorney-general Yvette D'Ath says spit hoods are not used in the state's juvenile detention centres, but in this case the teen was on remand at an adult facility.

Ms D'Ath has already ordered an independent review of Queensland's youth justice system, in the wake of the Northern Territory's juvenile detention scandal and similar complaints of abuse at some Queensland facilities.

A spokesman for the attorney-general on Tuesday restated Labor's intention to stop sending 17-year-olds to adult prisons.

But barrister and Youth Advocacy Centre chairman Damien Atkinson says that's been Labor's policy position for more than 20 years and it's still happening.

"They've had that policy since 1992," he told the ABC.

"I think that if Queenslanders understood the situation - and hopefully they do now - they would think it's unacceptable."

Corrective Services Minister Bill Byrne says the claims made by the young man in the footage were investigated by police who found authorities had no case to answer about his treatment.

However, the video has prompted him to seek a corrective services department review of the case.

Mr Byrne said he was working with Ms D'Ath to end the detention of 17-year-olds alongside adult criminals.

But he also noted the difficulties associated with the co-location of "17-year-old potentially armed robbers" being housed alongside younger children.

Source AAP

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