Hakea Prison tension at an all time high

Tuesday 16 Jul 2019

The WA Prison Officers’ Union has warned of more assaults, deaths and prisoner escapes if serious staffing shortages are not dealt with at Hakea Prison.

In the past five months Hakea has seen four deaths in custody, numerous serious assaults on prison officers and a prisoner breakout.

It is understood during the breakout two prisoners managed to jump the fence of the maximum security prison and gain access into the female complex. It took hours before the pair was coerced to come down from on top of the roof.

Hakea now has a prison population of more than 1,150 but the current staffing agreement is based on a maximum muster of 1,000, which means the prison runs on average 50 officers short on any given day.

WAPOU Secretary Andy Smith said the union had been working closely with the Department of Justice to sign off on a new staffing agreement.

“The new staffing agreement aligns with the current prison population, but this delayed agreement is way overdue and is causing tensions at the prison to be at an all-time high,” he said.

“The prison is overcrowded and understaffed, it is an extremely dangerous environment and will only get worse if the department doesn’t act now.

“The department must act immediately to sign this agreement and stop relying on prison officers to work overtime to fill the newly created positions. It is unsafe and unsustainable.

“The union is calling for the department to sign off on the new staffing agreement and fulfill this agreement so Hakea can be staffed to its correct level.

“Once the agreement is signed there needs to be a priority on transferring and employing prison officers to fill these positions.

“The Officer of Inspector of Custodial Services report on Hakea was released in April and also concluded the prison was understaffed and under pressure.

“The report even recommended the fence between the male and female prison be upgraded and identified the risk of an escape. The department did not agree with the need to upgrade the fence and did nothing.

“It’s clear the department is taking too long to respond to recommendations and the longer it waits the worse the prison will get,” WAPOU Secretary Andy Smith said.