Teenage detainees being held at an adult maximum security prison have trashed their cells and climbed into the roof space a day after they were fed KFC as a treat.
WA Prison Officers Union secretary Andy Smith told The West Australian that some of the boys ripped out toilets to smash windows and then pulled apart the window frames to hurl projectiles at guards.
It was “pure luck” none of the youth custodial officers were injured during the two hours of chaos at Casuarina Prison on Saturday night.
Mr Smith said the group climbed into the roof space of Unit 18 before they were brought under control with pepper spray by the Special Operations Group, the prison system’s riot squad.
The incident comes less than two weeks after 16 inmates were transferred from Banksia Hill Juvenile Detention Center to Casuarina following months of damage and disruption.
Mr Smith revealed the troubled youths were given KFC for dinner on Friday night as a reward but kicked-off the following evening when they refused to go back into their cells.
“This was a failure of parenting 101 — do not reward bad behaviour,” the union boss said.
“The behavior of these juveniles at Banksia Hill has continued at Casuarina. There needs to be a huge look at how they are managed, not just where they are placed.”
The Justice Department said the “disturbance” lasted between 6pm and 8pm and confirmed the detainees had used debris as “weapons” to threaten youth custodial officers”.
A department spokesman said as part of efforts to manage young people at Banksia Hill, from time to time “incentives” were offered for good behaviour.
“At the temporary youth detention centre, six of the detainees were given a KFC meal on Friday as a reward for meeting a target of no behavioral incidents for about a week,” he said.
“A similar reward for good behavior was offered to details in two units at Banksia Hill.”
Corrective Services Minister Bill Johnston said five of the details transferred from Banksia Hill were involved in the violence.
“It’s actually a demonstration of why we moved them because I’m pleased to say that during the week the services at Banksia Hill were back to where they should be and programs were running,” he said.
“The whole purpose of moving these disruptive young people was to allow the majority of detainees (at Banksia Hill) to get the services that they deserve.”
He said the group had previously damaged about 100 cells at Banksia Hill and denied their behavior at the weekend was a result of being housed at an adult prison.
Mr Johnston said he hoped the teenagers would only be kept at Casuarina for a “short period” while plans for a $26 million upgrade of Banksia Hill were developed.
Shadow corrective services minister Peter Collier said situation “lurched from crisis to crisis” and responsibility rested entirely with Mr Johnston.
He said: “Of course moving them to Casuarina didn’t solve the problem, it merely transferred it. What’s he going to do now, put them in solitary confinement 24 hours a day?
“The Minister must resolve the systemic issues at Banksia Hill and stop doing what he thinks is politically expedient.”
It comes after Mr Johnston said he agreed with prison bosses who let some of WA’s most notorious criminals enjoy a late-night soccer party after winning special permission to watch the recent UEFA Champions League final.