Three prison officers assaulted at Albany: overcrowding fears went unheeded

Friday 08 Feb 2013

The Western Australian Prison Officer’s Union warns the overcrowding of the state’s prisons has contributed to the recent assault of three prison officers at Albany Regional Prison.

About 20 prisoners were involved in a brawl when a prisoner had to be forcibly removed from an unauthorised entry into a unit where he intended to cause another prisoner harm.

Three prison officers were injured in the course of their duties earlier this qweek, with two officers yet to return to work including one suffering a blow to the spine.

WAPOU Secretary John Welch said the tragic incident vindicated the local WAPOU branch who had raised concerns for many months that the prison is overcrowded.

“The Barnett Government has yet again failed to recognize the dangerous and challenging work that the state’s prison officers undertake, and provide adequate protection in prison facilities,” Mr Welch said today.

“Sadly, the assault of three officer injured at Albany Regional Prison is not an isolated incident – with more than 20 assaults over the holiday season and nearly 100 officers injured last year.

“In a state election where every day a new promise is made to be tough on the issue of law and order and send more prisoners to jail, overcrowding will only get worse.’

“ Whatever the rights and wrongs of the various parties policies to lock up more prisoners, our members will have to deal with evermore overcrowded and underfunded prisons.’

“Enough is enough. Our prison officers deserve proper staffing levels at existing prisons and the fast-track of new facilities to deal with the crisis of overcrowding in the prison system.

“If Premier Barnett wants to play tough on law and order during in an election campaign, then why doesn’t he provide fair funding for a safe prison system and fair pay for the officers who work within them?

“The hard-working men and women who work in our prisons deserve the State Government’s protection from the dangers of assault and violence they face every day at work,” he said.