Margaret Quirk

Margaret Quirk

Minister for Corrective Services; Small Business

    Prisoner issues receive State/Territory endorsement

    12/06/2008 12:00 AM

    Western Australia is setting the agenda in determining guidelines and standards for the safe and humane transportation of prisoners, Corrective Services Minister Margaret Quirk has announced.


    At the Corrective Services Minister’s Conference in Sydney today, Ms Quirk gained vigorous endorsement from all her State and Territory counterparts, as well as New Zealand Minister Phil Goff.


    “WA will host a national conference in August, where a range of issues will be discussed with the aim of improving the efficiency and safety of prisoner transportation,” Ms Quirk said.


    “This conference will discuss the development of national standards for prisoners’ transport vehicles.


    “These standards are important for quality control and will deliver efficiencies of scale for buying and upgrading vehicle fleets across the country.


    “Another agenda item will be the ensuring of strict guidelines and standards for checking a prisoner’s fitness to travel and the handover procedures from police custody to corrective services custody.


    “Also warmly endorsed was the increased use of video technology for court hearings, to obviate the need for prisoner transportation in the first place.


    “The feedback I received is that transporting prisoners is an issue of concern for everyone involved in this area and that a collective approach will help solve problems.”


    The Minister said other issues raised at the conference confirmed all other States and Territories faced many of the same challenges.


    “The management of sex offenders was an area that received attention,” she said.


    “All jurisdictions face the same difficulties in ensuring the robust management of offenders once they are released to the community.


    “Another issue, in all jurisdictions, is the ongoing detention or supervision of those who are classified as dangerous sex offenders.”


    The conference was told that contrary to popular perception, Australia was a nett exporter of prisoners under the international transfer of prisoners scheme.


    Since the scheme began in 2002, 48 prisoners have transferred from Australia, while only nine prisoners have returned.


    “One of the most positive things to come out of the conference was the refreshing attitude of the new Federal Minister for Home Affairs, Bob Debus,” Ms Quirk said.


    “This is in stark contrast to a succession of his predecessors under the previous

    Liberal government.


    “On a range of long-standing issues, including the eligibility of prisoners for Medicare, mobile phone jamming technology for prisons and the ability to deport prisoners at the time they become eligible for parole - but prior to the expiry of their sentences  - Mr Debus indicated the Commonwealth’s support.


    “I hope to see real progress on these issues in the coming months.


    “In particular, Mr Debus indicated a preparedness to advance mutual arrangements with New Zealand for the deportation of prisoners at the earliest possible date.


    “WA has more than 60 prisoners who would fit into this category.”


    Another positive note was the unanimous resolution to write to the Prime Minister seeking official endorsement to establish an Australian Corrective Services medal, similar to those awarded to other ‘uniformed’ public officers, recognising outstanding service to the community by individual  officers.


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