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NT Guards, politicians to front NT inquiry


AAP Image/Four Corners

Northern Territory prison guards and politicians will face a grilling at the juvenile justice royal commission this week after youngsters who were allegedly abused behind bars told their stories.

Allegations of rampant mistreatment by officers, a culture of bullying, woeful training and chronic short-staffing were revealed during the Alice Springs hearing on Monday.

Three current or former detainees gave evidence, painting a disturbing picture of life behind bars with children subjected to prolonged isolation and mistreatment.

A male prison guard who also took the stand said he forcibly restrained a 15 -year-old girl while she was stripped to her underwear and called it standard "procedure".

Former inmate Jamal Turner said there were no interpreters provided for children from indigenous communities who had difficulty speaking English, and some white guards called them "dumb black kids".

"Most of us that come out of detention come out more angry and acting tough than when we went in," said the 20-year-old, who is in custody.

A current Don Dale inmate identified as BC said prison guards treated the young people "like dogs" and there was a lack of adequate rehabilitation, education, and post-release planning.

A former detainee identified as BF said when he broke his collarbone from a sports injury guards ignored his complaints, and it was three days before he was taken to hospital.

Teen criminal Dylan Voller, whose tear gassing and spithooding while in jail triggered the probe, protested outside the court in solidarity.

More than 60 witnesses are expected to testify in the next three weeks, with four more vulnerable witnesses scheduled to give evidence this week ahead of more hearings in Darwin.

A former guard who notoriously restrained Voller while he was stripped naked, and the leaders who oversaw "a system of disarray and despair", will also face the inquiry, counsel assisting the commission Tony McAvoy SC said.

Former Labor government corrections minister and current Gunner government housing minister Gerry McCarthy is slated to take the stand on Friday.

The previous CP government's corrections minister John Elferink, who was sacked, will also give evidence.