Ashley Youth Detention Centre charges followed 'standard procedure’

Ashley Youth Detention Centre.
Ashley Youth Detention Centre.

Standard procedures were followed when an Ashley Youth Detention Centre worker was accused of assault last year, according to the department.

The clarification from the Department of Health and Human Services comes after claims Tasmania Police was “pressured” into pressing charges.

Shaun Bartlett was accused of assaulting two detainees after he attempted to restrain them during a heated incident at the centre in July, 2016.

The matter went to the Launceston Magistrates Court and following a hearing, Mr Bartlett was cleared of the charges.

Independent MLC Greg Hall said in Parliament on Tuesday that he understood Tasmania Police had viewed the original footage and was “disinclined to press charges because they found Mr Bartlett’s actions not excessive in the circumstances”.

Assistant Commissioner Glenn Frame said the matter had been referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions for advice.

“Tasmania Police has guidelines for determining whether to prosecute,” he said.

“The matter has now been determined by the court.”

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Mr Hall also claimed the incident was used by individuals within the state’s Justice and Human Services Departments to drive a political agenda and encourage the closure of the detention centre. 

A DHHS spokesman said on Wednesday “the report to Tasmania Police was done in accordance with the standard operating procedures in place at Ashley Youth Detention Centre, which is the case with everything regarding this process”.

Despite the charges being dismissed in court, Mr Bartlett has not returned to work, with the department launching an internal investigation after the hearing.

Reacting to Mr Hall’s allegations in Parliament, MLC Leonie Hiscutt said it would be “inappropriate to provide any further details” given the investigation was ongoing.

“The health and wellbeing of the employee is also a priority within the process … he has been encouraged to take advantage of the DHHS Employee Assistance Program.”