Overcrowding at Bandyup Women’s Prison putting prisoners and guards at risk says union

Bandyup Women''s Prison, Middle Swan. Picture: David Baylis
Bandyup Women''s Prison, Middle Swan. Picture: David Baylis

PRISONERS at Bandyup Women’s Prison have been forced to sleep on the ground due to overcrowding according to the WA Prison Officers’ Union.

Union secretary John Welch said the prison had hit a record 402 prisoners; the prison was designed to accommodate 250.

He said Bandyup had run out of cells and overcrowding was putting prisoners and prison officers at risk.

“We’re now at the point with Bandyup where prisoners are being triple-bunked, which means one person is forced to sleep on a mattress on the floor,” he said.

“Prisons that are this overcrowded become very volatile places, which puts the safety of our prison officers at risk.

“If the female prison population continues to rise, which we expect it will, we are going to run out of places to put people.”

Mr Welch said the government had failed to take action when the union had warned of an impending crisis.

“We had been warning the government for years that this problem was coming, but it waited until the situation was almost as crisis point before it acted,” he said.

Corrective Services has just announced a new women’s prison in Canning Vale called Melaeuca Remand and Reintegration Facility.

The prison will specialise in women prisoners who have experienced domestic violence, substance abuse and homelessness.

A Department of Corrective Services spokesman said the new women’s prison would help to deal with overcrowding, adding 256 beds.

He said last weekend Bandyup Women’s Prison received an unusually high receival rate from courts and WA Police.

“This increase resulted in a situation on Sunday night where nine prisoners were accommodated for one night on a mattress,” he said.

“Trundle beds were available for all of these women, but for operational and safety reasons the prison determined a mattress was more appropriate.”