Holtze prison was the site of rioting earlier this month, which is now the subject of a major criminal investigation. Picture: Elise Derwin
Holtze prison was the site of rioting earlier this month, which is now the subject of a major criminal investigation. Picture: Elise Derwin

Women terrorised by rioting prisoners

RIOTING inmates in Holtze prison broke into the women's section where they terrorised the helpless female prisoners who remained locked down in their cells, the NT News can reveal.

The incident happened during a disturbance earlier this month that involved men climbing onto roofs of buildings and causing millions of dollars in damage in what is now being treated as a major criminal investigation.

A former inmate in the women's section with close ties to those still inside - who the NT News has chosen not to name - said the incident was just another consequence of housing vulnerable women in close proximity to male offenders.

"There was a girl locked up in G block and a bloke's come up to her window and knocking on the window saying 'Hey come on, we're coming to get you later, we'll come back and get you later' and there was a couple of guys running around the sector screaming out for the women," she said.

"A lot of the women felt intimidated and threatened - they're in prison they should be safe."

The insider said the women's trauma was compounded by guards who later told them the men were likely looking to sexually assault them during the riot.

"After they all got unlocked from their cells, the women, the officers said the men were trying to get in to rape them and they were scared enough, I don't think they need that sort of thing said to them," she said.

"Now they're all locked up next door in sector five yelling out to the women 'We're coming back for you tonight' and telling them they're going to rape them and stuff."

The source said even in normal times the close proximity of the male and female sections exposed the women to what she called a "perv fest" of leering men.

"When the females walk around 'the loop' we call it, it's our only little sort of exercise area but we walk around the loop every day in there for exercise and the men up on the top of Bravo block can look straight down into the women's sector and wolf whistle," she said.

"Any time you've got to go anywhere, to medical or anything, you've got to walk up what they call 'the catwalk' and the boys just whistle out to you and they can see straight through.

"Culturally, a lot of my mates, they're not even allowed to look at their brother because of culture and that's not being respected because if they look over and they spot their brother they can't help that."

Just days after the riot the former inmate said there was another incident in which a male prisoner again climbed onto a building's roof from where he could have easily accessed the women's section.

"A bloke jumped out on the office of sector four and was shouting out to the women so all the women got locked down while they dealt with that and got him off the roof," she said.

"It looks out to the whole of sector four, there's no fences or anything and between high security and the women's so if you're on the roof you can jump straight off the roof (into the women's section)."

Correctional Services Commissioner Scott McNairn said while he could not comment on the riot due to the ongoing police investigation, "the safety and welfare of prisoners, employees and the community remains my priority".

"I assure the community that the arrangements for women prisoners are appropriate and that they are safe," he said.

"I do not make public details of security measures in the NT's correctional facilities, however, I again assure Territorians that public safety is my priority."

Originally published as Women terrorised by rioting prisoners


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