Public inquiry into prisons sought

The call was made after revelations that administration keys were lost at Banksia Hill Detention Centre, and found in a cell with one key missing.

The detention centre was significantly damaged after a riot in June and cells in the specially formed Hakea Juvenile Detention Centre were damaged in two separate incidents in July.

Opposition spokesman for Corrective Service Paul Papalia said it was not good enough to ask the Public Sector Commissioner to review matters of this magnitude, as the review was conducted in-house.

Reports suggest it could cost taxpayers $250,000 to have the locks changed at Banksia Hill.

Corrective Services Minister Joe Francis was on leave last week, so acting minister John Day responded to Comment News questions.

‘With around 5000 individuals in detention in our prison system, it’s inevitable there will be security and safety issues from time to time. Any allegations of serious misconduct by DCS staff are referred to the Public Sector Commissioner for investigation,’ Mr Day said.

‘The State Government has embarked on a number of reform initiatives within Corrective Services, including a heightened focus on programs aimed at diverting young people away from crime.

‘It is also addressing the shortage of youth custodial officers, while the Public Sector Commissioner (is) in the process of recruiting a new Corrective Services Commissioner.’

Last week, the Community and Public Sector Union/Civil Service Association reiterated calls for safety concerns, including cowling on fences, at Banksia Hill to be resolved before the transfer date scheduled for August.

‘Our members are very concerned about the return to Banksia Hill because a date has been set but there are a number of outstanding safety concerns,’ union branch assistant secretary Rikki Hendon said.

Meanwhile, an escapee from Karnet Prison Farm was on the loose from noon July 22 until 4pm the next day when he was found near the prison without incident.