Greens MP and Police and Juvenile Justice spokesperson David Shoebridge today called on Police Minister Michael Daley to give further details on incidents of police assaults on young people, and demanded immediate action.
The information was revealed in answers to Questions on Notice asked by Mr Shoebridge in Budget Estimates last month. (Daily Telegraph 18/10/10 p9.)
“NSW has a responsibility to protect and nurture our youth. Instead we are increasingly guilty of harming them.
“At least five young people are included in these wrongful arrests. Three of them were assaulted by police.
“NSW has one of the highest rates in Australia of young people in gaol. From 2006 to 2008 this number increased by 40 per cent.
“The government must learn that locking children up doesn’t work.
“The evidence is in – detaining juveniles kick starts a cycle of poverty, disadvantage and incarceration.
“Of the over $2.7 million in settlements for unlawful arrests made in 2009-10, the vast majority, involving $2.4 million, was made for unlawful arrests including assault.
“These are just the cases where the wrongfully accused or assaulted sought compensation. The real cost to individuals could be staggering.
“On average, each of these settlements is costing the NSW taxpayer over $120,000. This does not include the additional costs of the wrongful detention in the first place.
“Putting to one side the waste of police resources each time an unlawful arrest is made, NSW taxpayers then spend $556 a day to keep each juvenile in custody.
“If nothing else, the economic costs of wrongful arrest and locking up young people should lead to the government taking action, because the personal and social costs certainly aren’t,” Mr Shoebridge said.