Premier must rule out support for prison needle exchange program

Thursday 24 Jan 2013

The WA Prison Officers’ Union has called on the Premier to immediately rule out the introduction of a needle exchange program in the state’s jails.

The union’s call was prompted after Mental Health Minister Helen Morton told a Drug and Alcohol forum that the government would look at and consider the effects of the trial of needle exchange in the ACT.

WAPOU Secretary John Welch said the policy of successive state governments both Liberal and Labor has been a flat no to needle exchange and any change to that clear policy is very worrying.

“If the Government is considering the outcome of the highly controversial experiment with needle exchange in the ACT one assumes it’s to consider its implementation.

“Prison officers have very real concerns about the risks associated with the running of a needle exchange program in our prisons.

“There are well-documented health and safety concerns associated with the running of such a program in prisons for both prison officers and prisoners.

“We’ve had twenty assaults on prison officers since Christmas, we’ve had a riot at Banksia Hill which the government is struggling to deal with – these jobs are hard enough without the government even thinking about adding fuel to the fire by forcing prison officers to face more risk.

Mr Welch said the State Government should immediately rule out the introduction of a needle exchange program in WA’s prison system.

“The prison system is already in crisis, we don’t need more bad policy putting more pressure on the system,” said Mr Welch.