Margaret Quirk

Margaret Quirk

Minister for Corrective Services; Small Business

    New technology assures greater prison security

    20/05/2008 12:00 AM

    Corrective Services Minister Margaret Quirk today announced the installation of cutting-edge biometric technology at Hakea, Casuarina, Albany and Bandyup Prisons to enhance community safety and increase security in Western Australian jails.


    Ms Quirk told an estimates committee hearing that the new technology, scheduled for complete installation by October this year, would take iris scan readings of anyone entering or leaving prisons.


    “This will ensure the positive identification of visitors and others at jails and prevent prisoners leaving the prison in their place,” the Minister said.


    “It will also increase security at the prison by allowing staff to better monitor visitors.


    “Biometric Recognition Technology records details of physical characteristics to authenticate an individual’s identity, including iris recognition, fingerprint scanning, palm recognition and photographs.


    “It is technology that is used extensively in secure facilities at a national and international level.


    “The report I received after the trial at the Department of Community Services facility last month recommended iris scan biometric technology as most suitable for use in WA prisons.  


    “The department has endorsed the use of iris technology, given its very high levels of identification accuracy.”


    Iris scan is a method of biometric authentication which uses pattern recognition techniques based on high-resolution images of the irises of an individual’s eyes.


    The cameras used employ the same process as consumer type digital cameras and camcorders.


    The iris technology requires users to stand in front of a camera in order to register an initial photograph of the irises.  Subsequent visits will involve confirming a positive iris match to the initial photograph.


    Ms Quirk said registration of people entering a prison would still include the current 100-point identification check and a Total Offender Management System (TOMS) photograph.


    “The new biometric technology will support existing security technologies and processes at these gatehouses including walk-through metal detectors, X-ray machines for property being taken into the prison, drug ion scans, photographic identification registered on TOMS for all  visitors and gatehouse staff to processes,” the Minister said.


    “Each gatehouse will require structural modification to house the new iris scan hardware and associated changes to processing visitors in and out of the prison, but I expect this new initiative to be up and running by the end of this year.”


    Minister's office  - (08) 9213 7000