Bennett Brook Disability Justice Centre: detainee scales fence to escape from facility

Bennett Brook Disability Justice Centre: detainee scales fence to escape from facility

A DETAINEE scaled the fence and escaped from the Bennett Brook Disability Justice Centre recently.

On May 8, a resident accused of a crime but mentally unfit to stand trial climbed the fence. He was returned to the centre by police four hours later.

This is the second escape from the centre. The first occurred on New Year’s Eve, when two residents escaped and triggered a helicopter and police search.

Following the New Year’s Eve escapes, a $640,000 security upgrade began at the Lockridge centre, which included the installation of a 4.5m-high wall.

An anti-dig plinth, structural enhancements and improved motion detection technology will also be installed.

Disability Services Commission director general Ron Chalmers said “all relevant policies and procedures” were followed when the resident was returned by police on May 8.

“The security upgrade commenced in March and significant modifications and security enhancements have been and continue to be made,” he said.

“This modification was based on a comprehensive security review undertaken by the Department of Corrective Services and an external consultant.”

Dr Chalmers said he had recommended to the Mentally Impaired Accused Review Board that residents be moved temporarily while work on the fence is carried out.

Bassendean MLA Dave Kelly said it was “appalling” there was an escape and the community was not notified.

“The community was told this would be a secure facility and residents could live next door to it, safe in the belief no-one would escape,” he said.

“People will be very disappointed and frustrated that yet again their community has been put at risk.

“We were told that after the New Year’s Eve incident, interim security measures had been put in place. Clearly they’ve failed.”

Caversham resident Karen Mercer said $640,000 was a “ludicrous” amount to spend on the upgrade.

“If they’re having to build these fences, these people are a bigger risk than we were led to believe,” she said.

The Government is also set to implement recommendations from a separate review of the centre.

The centre is WA’s first alternative to prison for people with disabilities or impairments who are unfit to plead to criminal charges.