Youth detainee numbers on the rise in Canberra

The average number of young Canberrans in youth detention each night has risen over the three years to June 2018.

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows the majority of young people in detention on an average night in Canberra for the quarter ending June 2018 were male, unsentenced and non-Indigenous.

The average number of young people in detention each night rose from about nine in the 2014-15 financial year to about 15 in the 2017-18 financial year.

The number of non-Indigenous young people in detention on any given night in the last financial year was almost double that of three years earlier, with an average of about 11 per night up from six per night in 2014-15.

The number of unsentenced young Canberrans in youth detention each night increased the most, from about five per night in 2014-15 up to about nine per night in 2017-18.

About two Indigenous young people were in detention on an average night last financial year, up from about one in 2014-15.

But there were more non-Indigenous young people in detention, with an average of about three per night in 2014-15 rising to about seven per night in 2017-18.

In the quarter ending June 2018, there were 12 young people in detention on an average night in Canberra.

The majority were unsentenced, non-Indigenous and male in the ACT, while nationally the majority of detainees were unsentenced, Indigenous and male.

Former ACT attorney-general Simon Corbell has previously called for the ACT's criminal age of responsibility to be raised from 10 years old to 14.

These calls were echoed by the ACT Human Rights Commissioner, the Children's Commissioner, the Aboriginal Legal Service, Amnesty International Australia and the Human Rights Law Centre.

Experts say young people under 14 are not able to comprehend the consequences of their actions.

In the last quarter of 2017, 19 of the 57 inmates at Canberra's Bimberi youth detention centre, or about one third, were aged between 10 and 14 years old, according to data tabled in the Legislative Assembly.

Bureau data has previously shown Indigenous children in Canberra aged 10 to 14 are up to seven times more likely than non-Indigenous children to be charged by police.

Across Australia about 980 young people were in detention on an average night in the quarter ending June 2018.

NSW saw the highest amount of youth in detention each night, with the ACT seeing the lowest.

In the Northern Territory, all youth in detention in the quarter ending June 2018 were Indigenous.