CCTV screens together of prison cells. A child lies on the floor of one, his face blurred.

Investigations and 72 hour caps are not the solution to watchhouse issues

The Queensland Opposition today announced that they will introduce a bill to cap the time children are held in police watch houses at 72 hours.

In response, Rodney Dillon, Amnesty International Australia Indigenous Rights Adviser, said:

“While any action on the traumatising use of watchhouses is to be welcomed, three days of detention is still three days too many. The Queensland Police Operational Procedure Manual already stipulates that children should not be kept in a watch house overnight – and that is what should be legislated.

“Unlike the Government, the Opposition has at least proposed a way to get kids out of watch houses as soon as possible. The Government’s so-called “investigation” is too little, too late.

“They know what the problem is. They have been told by us, by the Public Guardian, and by the Youth Advocacy Centre for the past year. Only now that these atrocities have been made public are they listening. An investigation is simply a delay tactic and a smokescreen to mask the Government’s lack of action.

“It’s time to move the conversation away from what to do with kids in detention and towards giving children and their families the support they need to prevent offending.

“The Government must focus on keeping kids out of detention in the first place through community-led prevention programs, and raising the age of criminal responsibility to at least fourteen.”