I’m not running a hotel for criminals: Minister

Union Sec. John Welch
Union Sec. John Welch

Mr Francis was responding to a statement by the WA Prison Officers’ Union that Hakea Prison in Canning Vale was one of WA’s most overcrowded prisons.

Union secretary John Welch said Hakea was holding nearly 40 per cent more prisoners than its design capacity, even though a 64-cell unit there was sitting empty because the Government had no staff to operate it.

Mr Welch said overcrowding had led to instances of two prisoners being housed in single cells and prisoners sometimes sleeping on the floor, and that level of overcrowding could lead to violence.

‘The Government needs to employ an extra 200 prison officers to properly staff the prison system and open all available units,’ he said.

Mr Francis said the system had some spare capacity if it was needed, including spare units at Albany, Casuarina and Hakea, with some of those cells opening soon.

He said more than 110 extra officers would be on duty by the end of the year.

‘Sure, there are a small number of prisoners who have to share a cell with others, but I’m not running a five-star hotel for criminals,’ he said.

‘This Government has just opened a new 30-bed work camp in Roebourne, we’re building a new 350-bed prison in the Eastern Goldfields and we’re expanding Acacia to add another 387 beds,’ he said.

‘Union claims that we’re not catering for a growing prison population simply have no credibility.

‘The prison population, which has risen by about 8 per cent in the past year or so, is being managed safely and effectively.’