WAPOU backs plan for new prison for WA to alleviate overcrowding

Thursday 11 Jun 2015

The WA Prison Officers’ Union has backed a suggestion from the state’s Corrective Services Commissioner that WA could need a new prison within the next three years.

The Commissioner made the comments at a budget estimates hearing today, after he told the hearing the number of prisoners in WA had risen 17 per cent over the past five years.

WAPOU State Secretary John Welch said the union had been highlighting the chronic overcrowding in WA’s prisons for quite some time and had been calling for a new prison.

“The State Government has repeatedly denied there is overcrowding in the state’s prison system, but it seems that the Corrective Services Commissioner doesn’t agree,” he said.

“We have been increasingly concerned about chronic overcrowding, especially since the State Government decided to try and alleviate it by cramming two prisoners into cells designed for one, rather than building more cells.

“The government then tried to make the problem go away simply by changing the way it counts prisoners to make it look like the system isn’t overcrowded.

“We’re pleased to see the Commissioner make the obvious suggestion that the best way to alleviate the overcrowding is to build a new prison.”

Mr Welch said even though the Corrective Services Minister revealed planning for a new prison had commenced, there was no money in the recent state budget over the forward estimates to fund it.

“Before the budget, the union called for additional funds to be allocated to provide the new facilities that we so clearly need,” he said.

“We have repeatedly made the point that if the government is going to continue with its ‘tough on crime’ agenda and lock up an increasing number of people, it needs to come up with the funding to build cells to accommodate them.”