Corrective Services Minister Margaret Quirk said today that the multi-million dollar upgrade of Bunbury Regional Prison was on track for completion by September 2008.
Inspecting the big project today, Ms Quirk said the $17.7million upgrade of the prison would increase security and safety, reduce overcrowding and provide better facilities for staff.
“The upgrade includes a new 72-bed minimum security unit, in line with the State Government’s position on improving facilities to house the greater numbers of criminals caught by police and sentenced by the courts,” she said.
“The new unit is based on a ‘self-care’ model where prisoners are responsible for their own cooking and cleaning.
“The work will be ready for completion in two months. While work has taken several months longer than originally anticipated, compromising the quality of construction to meet an earlier deadline was not an acceptable option.
“At the end of the day, we need to make certain the work meets levels of security to ensure the safety of the community, prison staff and prisoners.
“The Department of Corrective Services will spend almost $10million in 2008-2009 on new initiatives to address the crowding of Western Australia’s prisons and to reduce the number of offenders kept in jail.
“The State Government is addressing the problem of prison overcrowding. In the past 12 months, through a range of strategies, the prison population has decreased by about 200 and now stands at about 3,780.
“Since 2001, the State’s prison capacity has increased by 291 beds, with a further 112 to be commissioned this year - including 40 beds which make up part of an $8.7million upgrade of Wooroloo Prison Farm, as well as the new facilities at Bunbury Regional Prison.”
Initiatives include: increasing efforts to help prisoners to move back into the community after their release; increasing the services which assist offenders with accommodation and day-to-day living requirements; increasing employment programs to give prisoners relevant job skills for their release; and expanding the Repay WA program, which diverts offenders into community service work.
“Based on what I have seen today, I am confident we are meeting and exceeding those expectations which are part and parcel of the State Government’s strong law and order position,” Ms Quirk said.
The upgrade to the existing prison includes:
· installation of a fence around the minimum security facility, consistent with the new standards for minimum security prisons in WA;
· expansion of the existing staff mobile duress alarm system;
· upgrade of the existing internal security detection system;
· upgrade of the existing fire detection system, to coincide with the opening of the minimum security section;
· upgrade of the main kitchen;
· redesign and modification of the prisoner programs area;
· a new health centre; and
· upgrade of doors, locks and viewing panels to improve staff safety.
Other significant improvements include the removal of ligature points in cells to reduce the possibility of prisoner suicide, a replacement perimeter detection system and a central control room upgrade.
“The upgrade will bring Bunbury Regional Prison into line with expected standards for the State’s prisons,” the Minister said.
“It will help the prison cope with the growing numbers of prisoners and ensure it remains a modern facility well into the future.”
Minister's office - (08) 9213 7000