Wednesday 29 May 2024

The WA Prison Officers’ Union (WAPOU) said Hakea prison was currently in lockdown, as staff were not willing to open cells in the overcrowded, understaffed prison due to safety concerns.

WAPOU said staff had made the decision to lock down the prison themselves after days of warning management that the prison could not be operated safely under the current conditions.

WAPOU said the prisoner count currently sat at around 1170, which was 170 prisoners more than the prison could cater for.

At the same time, the prison had been operating at 40-50 prison officers fewer than what it needed to safely handle the number of prisoners.

WAPOU Secretary Andy Smith said the union had genuine concerns for prison officers’ safety.

“After three days of telling management the prison is overcrowded, understaffed and cannot be operated safely, staff have finally taken it upon themselves to refuse to work in these unsafe conditions,” he said.

“The prison is practically overflowing. There are three people being crammed into cells built for one, there are people sleeping on the floor.

“Under these unsafe conditions, prisoners become more agitated and dangerous and our members would be in the firing line.

“When they have 40-50 fewer staff than they need to operate safely, it’s just an accident waiting to happen.

“Our members are not prepared to put their personal safety at risk day after day and we support them in that decision.”

Mr Smith said prisoners would stay in their cells and there would be no visitation until further notice.

He said the union was willing to step in to hold talks with the Department of Corrective Services to resolve the situation.


Rebecca Boteler rebecca@regenstrategic.com.au