- Departmental audit estimates 27 per cent under-reporting of assaults over recent years
- Oversight agencies have all recommended improved reporting and recording of previous assault data
- Increased steps being taken to address assaults
New measures to more accurately report and record assaults in Western Australian prisons are now underway to address the legacy of under-reporting assaults in corrective services.
A 2018 internal audit on the rate of serious assaults per 100 prisoners has estimated an under-reporting of 27 per cent in data collection.
The Inspector of Custodial Services, the Corruption and Crime Commission, and the Auditor General have also identified the previous reporting and recording of assaults needed to be improved.
As such, reporting standards have been tightened, enhancements made to software used to record incidents, and quality assurance processes around incident reporting and recording have been strengthened.
Prison superintendents are also working to ensure prison officers follow existing policies and procedures to minimise assaults on staff, and to more accurately report and record any incidents.
A new category of assault has also been introduced if a victim receives no physical injuries and did not require any form of medical treatment, but a prisoner's actions were still considered an unacceptable form of assault.
New measures have also been introduced to minimise assaults on prison officers and other prisoners at Hakea Remand Prison, which is dealing with an increased number of offenders with meth addiction issues.
A Western Australian police officer will be based at Hakea Prison in the coming weeks to assist with the prosecution of prisoners who commit assaults against staff or other prisoners.
The frequency of wing patrols is also being increased with the assistance of the Special Operations Group.
A new staffing agreement has also been reached with prison officers and prison management and an open-ended current recruitment drive is now underway to fill vacancies as soon as possible.
Comments attributed to Corrective Services Minister Francis Logan:
"We need to have accurate data if we are going to properly address the shameful legacy of the previous Liberal National Government's overcrowding and under-staffing of our prisons.
"The current data more accurately reflects the challenges that our prisons and prison officers face, but it is still not clear how much assaults have changed over the years because of the previous under-reporting.
"Not only has an internal departmental audit estimated that a number of certain assaults was under-reported by 27 per cent, but several oversight agencies including the Inspector of Custodial Services have also called for improvements.
"It's particularly concerning that there has been an increase in staff assaults and we are working as fast as possible to address the inherited issues of overcrowding and understaffing.
"We have invested $310 million to build new units in Bunbury and Casuarina Prisons to bring 1228 new beds online, which will make a significant difference to overcrowding. The first 160 bed-unit under this significant expansion plan is expected to be operational next month.
"We have embarked on a recruitment campaign for another 458 prison officers and so far we have 228 trainee officers confirmed across WA's jails.
"Hakea Prison, the State's busiest and most challenging prison, will have a police officer based there in the coming weeks to help with the prosecution of a prisoner who carries out an assault.
"I want the full weight of the law brought down on prisoners who assault a prison officer and we are working to achieve that.
"Wing patrols with the Special Operations Group have also been increased and an experienced superintendent has been reinstated to the prison to ensure correct procedures and policies are carried out to minimise the risk of assaults."
Minister's office - 6552 6300