Union calls for prisoner transport services to be brought back in house

Tuesday 16 Jun 2015

The WA Prison Officers’ Union has criticised the State Government’s decision to put WA’s prisoner transport contract out to competitive tender.

The government has decided not to extend the contract currently held by Serco, which is due to expire on June 30 next year.

WAPOU Secretary John Welch said the government clearly had concerns about Serco’s ability to deliver the contract.

“If the government has concerns about quality with private contractors, why is it putting out yet another private tender?” he said.

“Under Serco and its predecessors, we have seen a string of serious incidents including the Supreme Court escape in 2005, the death of Aboriginal elder Mr Ward in 2008, and the escape of two dangerous prisoners near Geraldton last year.

“Private contractors are clearly not up to the task and it’s time the government looked at other options.”

Mr Welch said the union believed that prisoner transport services should be run by the public sector.

“The problem with private contractors is that they have to make a profit, and to do that they have to cut corners when it comes to staffing and safety,” he said.

“We believe there are many benefits to bringing prisoner transport back in-house, including greater transparency and accountability as well as efficiency due to having more highly trained staff.

“If the State Government is not willing to give the contract back to the Department for Corrective Services, we think it should follow the lead of the UK, where government departments are allowed to submit tenders to compete with private companies.

“That way, we would be able to ensure that WA taxpayers got not only value for money, but a safer and better quality service.”