Police have deployed tear gas on Don Dale Youth Detention Centre inmates who escaped from their cells, set the facility’s school on fire and used angle grinders to cut fences in an attempt to escape.
- Police were called to Don Dale Youth Detention Centre at about 6.45pm last night
- Youths set the facility’s school on fire and it was destroyed
- The incident was resolved at about 2:15am
Duty Superintendent Rob Farmer said the disturbance broke out at about 6.45pm last night, when keys were snatched from the centre’s staff.
He believed 24 of the 25 inmates were then released from their cells, as all available police units rushed to the detention centre, 15 kilometres from Darwin.
He said many of the inmates surrendered when police arrived, but by midnight 12 remained at large.
“The youths had access to power tools from the workshop and some were making attempts to cut fences using grinders,” he said.
“[They] were also throwing batteries and other items at police around the perimeter fence.”
Smoke is visible around the centre as emergency crews respond. (ABC News: Mitchell Woolnough)
The youths had also found accelerants and set alight a small demountable building, believed to be the centre’s school, Duty Superintendent Farmer said.
“Some of them were sniffing [the accelerants] and danger also existed that further buildings could be destroyed by fire or the accelerants could be used as weapons against us,” he said.
CS gas, a type of tear gas, was deployed.
However, Duty Superintendent Farmer did not believe any of the inmates were affected by it, as they backed away when it was released.
At about 1:00am police entered the facility.
All the inmates were located by 2:15am, the fire was extinguished and the facility was handed back to Territory Families at 3:00am, police said.
Twelve youths were taken to the Darwin watch house.
Three, who were believed to have been sniffing the accelerant, were taken to hospital.
Duty Superintendent Farmer said the only injury had been to a staff member, whose hand was cut when they were struck with a table leg.
A police car lost a windscreen when a battery was thrown through it.
Police were called to a disturbance at Don Dale Youth Detention Centre at about 6:45pm last night. (ABC News: Mitchell Woolnough)