olice and emergency workers were called to an uprising at the Acmena Juvenile Justice Centre at South Grafton.
olice and emergency workers were called to an uprising at the Acmena Juvenile Justice Centre at South Grafton.

Acmena uprising

By Julia Iles

Police were called to an uprising last night at the Acmena Juvenile Justice Centre at South Grafton.

Five youths trashed and flooded the Clarence wing. Acmena staff were threatened with a knife.

Police had the situation under control two hours after the uprising at 7.30pm.

The uprising follows the Christmas riots at Acmena in 2003, when detainees set fire to a building, damaged equipment and held police and staff at bay for hours.

Last night, ambulance officers, an eight-member squad of firemen and eight policemen were at the Swallow Road facility.

"Five young blokes locked themselves in the Clarence wing, which is one of the three wings at the facility ? they threatened staff with a makeshift knife," Chief Inspector Darren Spooner, of Grafton police, said.

"They have caused around $80,000 to $100,000 damage including trashing computers ? printers, all of the admin things ? got into the roof and pulled out electricity cables, they have cracked windows, thrown food and flooded the place; it's now under about four inches of water."

It is believed the detainees had earlier requested transfer to another justice centre.

The five youths will be charged with affray and malicious damage.

Chief Inspector Spooner said the youths would be be transfered from the juvenile justice system to the Department of Corrective Services.

"The staff at the facility (Acmena) have protective gear and helmets, which they can use to control situations, but the way things are set up is they have to call a manager, who is often off-site as most of these incidents happen at night, and then the staff have to call the police. It's usually all over by the time they can use the equipment," he said.

"And it means that while this was happening Grafton didn't have any police."

Member for Clarence Steve Cansdell, who went to Acmena after being told of the uprising, said Acmena staff were not properly trained. He would be approaching the State Minister for Juvenile Justice Tony Kelly for answers. The five youths will appear in Grafton court today.



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