Prison Officers Stop Riot at Understaffed Wooroloo Prison Farm

Thursday 12 Mar 2020

The WA Prison Officers’ Union (WAPOU) has commended the professionalism of prison officers involved in a major disturbance at Wooroloo Prison Farm overnight.

Prison officers were forced to risk their own lives to put out a number of fires started by prisoners, following a blackout at the facility. Responding quickly to the incident avoided potential injury to Prison Officers and prisoners.

WA Prison Officers’ Union Secretary Andy Smith said in difficult circumstances our members managed to bring the situation back under control quickly before it escalated into a serious riot. 

“Last night’s incident comes as no surprise, WAPOU has repeatedly warned the department of the serious overcrowding in WA jails, and today we see it results in an incident one week after prison officers walked off the job at the same prison.

“Incidents such as these are a consequence of not staffing prisons to safe levels, if you don’t maintain safe staffing levels at a minimum-security prison this is what can happen. 

“The prisoners are not locked up inside and it puts the staff at risk. Staff can’t lock them in cells, they are free-range, and you need to staff to the levels that maintain safety.

“The overcrowding also causes prisoners to become agitated, especially when they are forced to sleep on mattresses on the floor, and it’s the prison officers who suffer as a result.

“I commend the actions of our members last night who acted quickly to ensure this disturbance didn’t get out of hand and become another Greenough riot situation.”

“The professional and prompt actions of our members at Wooroloo and the Special Operations Group, along with other emergency response services ensured the safety of the residents of Wooroloo and surrounding areas.

“Our officers face these dangerous situations daily and it is up to the department to ensure staff are at appropriate levels to help protect our members,” Mr Smith said.