Riot at Acacia as covid brings staffing levels to boiling point

Monday 28 Feb 2022

The WA Prison Officers’ Union has confirmed a riot has broken out at Acacia Prison after prisoners were moved under COVID regulations.

It is understood the riot broke out when prisoners with COVID were being moved into a different unit.

WAPOU Secretary Andy Smith said the Union had yet to confirm the safety of prison officers on site.

“The riot is still underway, with prisoners on the roof and reports of multiple fires in cells,” Mr Smith said.

“Acacia is WA’s largest prison and it’s already understaffed. But Serco has yet to call in off-duty prison officers to bolster numbers during this riot.

“The ability to quell incidents of this magnitude is greatly diminished with staffing at such low levels as they are in Acacia Prison.

“Staffing numbers needed to be greatly increased at the prison to meet levels considered ‘safe’ by the Department of Justice.

“This situation was entirely predictable due to shocking staffing levels and poor morale, and has now hit boiling point.

“Serco needs to stop putting profits ahead of safety and ensure there is enough staff to control the number of prisoners.”

Mr Smith said it was disappointing that Serco had waited until there were multiple COVID cases onsite before involving the union.

“WAPOU should have been involved in the COVID strategy at the start of the pandemic,” Mr Smith added.

“I’m shocked that neither Serco nor the WA Labor Government have acted to ensure the safety of prison officers and prisoners.

“We tip our hats to the bravery of prison officers who face a variety of risks every day in difficult or volatile conditions, ranging from safety issues and staffing shortages to heat stress and a lack of PPE.”