A world-first event, designed to improve both community safety and prisoner welfare, starts in Perth today.
Western Australia’s Acting Corrective Services Minister John Kobelke said the Custodial Transport Forum had attracted experts from around the world.
Mr Kobelke said Corrective Services Minister Margaret Quirk initiated the review into prisoner transport services that led to today’s forum, after the death in custody earlier this year of a respected member of the Warburton Community.
“I know my colleague was deeply affected by that incident and is keen to see a system in place that will reduce any chance of such a sad event happening in future,” he said.
“This forum is designed to address the issues and challenges that authorities around the world face when transporting prisoners.
“Here in WA, these challenges are compounded by the vast distances that have to be travelled, often in extreme climatic conditions, and the disparate cultural needs of our offenders.
“Our aim is to become world leaders in the area of custodial transport and I anticipate a wealth of ideas to come out of the discussions over the next two days.”
The Acting Minister said while community safety was a primary concern, it needed to be balanced with duty of care and health issues when transporting prisoners.
“It is the responsibility of all jurisdictions to ensure prisoners are treated as safely and humanely as possible,” he said.
“This forum is an important step in achieving long-term and sustainable improvements in these areas.
“Despite differing backgrounds and circumstances, I am sure all delegates will find much in common over the course of the next two days.”
Mr Kobelke expected the forum to highlight a number of key areas regarding prisoner transport, including:
· the development of escort vehicle design specifications and standards;
· prisoner handover procedures;
· health issues that must be considered when escorting prisoners over long distances;
· contingency and emergency planning, including incident management and innovation; and
· improving policies and procedures addressing prisoner and staff safety.
“I anticipate one outcome of this forum will be the development of National Australian Design Standards for prisoner transport vehicles and I am sure that Ms Quirk will rigorously pursue recommendations made on this issue with her Federal counterparts,” Mr Kobelke said.
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