Suspended officer part of plan to close Ashley Youth Detention Centre, says Greg Hall

Greg Hall
Greg Hall

A senior Northern politician has alleged in Parliament that police charged an Ashley Youth Detention Centre officer after pressure imposed by government bureaucrats.

McIntyre independent MLC Greg Hall said this pressure was due to a longstanding political agenda to see the centre closed.

Mr Hall made the claims while moving a motion in the Legislative Council which called upon Human Services Minister Jacquie Petrusma to investigate the circumstances around the officer’s ongoing suspension from the centre after an incident in July 2016 with two detainees.

The officer, Shaun Bartlett, had attempted to restrain the detainees and force them back into their rooms after a glass window and been smashed and workers threatened with shards.

Mr Bartlett was stood down after the incident while footage was viewed and investigations initiated and has not returned to work since – but remains on full pay.

He was charged by police for assault in September but was cleared of any wrongdoing later in court.

Mr Hall said that the court had found that the force used by Mr Bartlett was “well within the limits of what was reasonable”.

“My understanding is that Tasmania Police viewed the original footage of the event and were disinclined to press charges because they found Mr Bartlett’s actions not excessive in the circumstances,” he said.

“I’m being told that there is a certain, high-ranking person who wanted the matter to proceed.

“It would seem there has been a political agenda for some of those in the bureaucracy of the Justice and Human Services Departments to close the Ashley detention centre and my cynical view is that they used this incident to further their cause.”