Banksia Hill:Government should have seen this coming

Wednesday 23 Jan 2013

This morning’s serious incident at Banksia Hill juvenile detention centre has exposed the inadequacies of the way we incarcerate both juveniles and adult prisoners in unsuitable and unsafe conditions.

WA Prison Officers’ Union secretary John Welch said it was deeply disappointing that juveniles at Banksia Hill had to be transferred to the already under-staffed Hakea Prison during the emergency.

“We are thankful that no one has been injured in what could have been a very dangerous situation,” Mr Welch said.

“Staff have shown real professionalism in dealing with this morning’s incident. However we have major concerns that we ended up in a situation where the only possible response was to shift children as young as 14 into an adult prison full of serious offenders.

"Putting children into an Adult Prison should never been an option. The fact that the children have had to be placed at a maximum security prison is proof that our correctional system is in dire crisis.

“Hakea Prison is already overcrowded and under-staffed, and this situation put extra pressure on to its already inadequate infrastructure.

“Staff were forced to use unit 5, which has no control room due to a refurbishment, and unit 12, which has been condemned as unsafe for Occupational, Health and Safety reasons.”

Mr Welch said that there had been seven assaults of prison officers at Hakea in December and that the prison was struggling to cope.

“Over summer, Hakea prison has been like a pressure cooker as staff deal with overcrowding, under-staffing and hot weather,” Mr Welch said.

“As Inspector of Custodial Services Neil Morgan found in his report into Hakea last week, the infrastructure is not adequate for the number of people served by the prison, let alone dealing with extra in an emergency.”

“The report clearly stated that the failure to open the two new units has put extra pressure on existing infrastructure and even when they are opened the Government has extraordinarily decided to close other units at the Prison.”