The Western Australian Government is calling for expressions of interest to conduct an independent assessment of future prison bed requirements.
Assisting Justice Minister Kevin Minson said today Ministry of Justice projections predicted about 2,600 prison beds would be needed by the year 2000, mainly in maximum and medium security categories.
"This means another 300 beds will be needed by 1999 and a further 300 by the year 2001," Mr Minson said.
The Minister said the study would assess and report to him on:
+ existing projections of prison bed requirements; and -
+ the most efficient alternatives to provide additional prison beds.
Mr Minson said the study would look at a range of options including the best use of current prison beds and the possible expansion of existing prisons.
"This will help provide Government with a clear picture of the most effective method not only of providing the necessary beds but maintaining and raising the standards of prison operations and prison programs," he said.
"The Government has an agreement with the WA Prison Officers' Union that no existing jail will be privatised.
"Under that agreement, significant efficiencies were achieved with the result that WA now has one of the most cost-effective prison systems in Australia.
"I have abided by that agreement."
Mr Minson said there would be no decision on the provision of a new prison until the study was completed and considered by the Cabinet.
Expressions of interests would be advertised on Saturday. The study would cost about $20,000.
Media contact: Caroline Lacy 222 9211