MEDIA RELEASE Embargoed until 12noon, 10th August 2010
REPORT OF AN ANNOUNCED INSPECTION OF GREENOUGH REGIONAL PRISON
Greenough Regional Prison caters for a very complex mix of prisoners, including males and females, maximum, medium and minimum security prisoners, and a large number of Aboriginal prisoners from different parts of the State. In launching the report of the August 2009 inspection of Greenough the Inspector of Custodial Services, Neil Morgan, said:
'For many years, the prison has managed these different groups well and gone about its business efficiently and free of major incidents: it can be characterised as a quiet performer with some untapped potential. Staff and management have continued to demonstrate a 'can do' attitude, even at times of pressure, and Greenough remains a well-performing prison.'
While there are many areas of good performance at Greenough, the prison was under pressure from overcrowding and from uncertainty about future expansion plans. Overcrowding had particularly impacted on prisoners' living conditions and employment opportunities.
'I was disturbed to find not only two prisoners to a cell designed for one, but sometimes three. Two would be on bunk beds and one on a mattress on the floor. One of my lasting images of the inspection is of mattresses and bedding being put in the sun outside to dry off because the overnight condensation levels had been so high that prisoners had woken up wet.
'The installation of more bunk beds at Greenough has reduced the extent to which people are forced to sleep on the floor. But unfortunately, similar problems persist in a number of other prisons, most urgently at Bandyup Women's Prison, which has recently placed an order for a machine to cover mattresses in plastic to minimise the saturation,' the Inspector said.
The Report also draws attention to serious risks associated with the design of some of the bunk beds that are in use at Greenough and other prisons across the State.
'The main safety risks are of a fall from the top bunk and a lack of mechanisms to climb up and down. Recently in the UK a prisoner was awarded substantial damages after falling from a top bunk. Just last week, our own State Coroner has drawn attention to problems of bunk bed design in relation to children.
'The Department promised a system-wide assessment and any necessary modifications. Given that bunks are continuing to be installed in WA prisons we are keenly awaiting an outcome and we will monitor progress.'
Given Greenough's good performance over many years and its geographical location, the report repeats the recommendations made in previous reports that the prison be expanded:
'Initially it appeared that this would occur. In November 2009, it was announced that Greenough would be expanded. But the plans soon changed and in February 2010 it was decided that Hakea Prison in Perth would replace Greenough as a major expansion site. The only major change at Greenough would be a new and larger unit for women prisoners.
'I certainly welcome the decision to invest in an improved area for the women as their current conditions are very poor and will allow more female prisoners to stay 'in country'. Unfortunately, the same does not apply to male prisoners, with most prison expansion concentrated in the metropolitan area and the south-west so many of them will be held further
from home and country.'
9 August 2010
Neil Morgan will be available for comment from 12 noon on Tuesday 10th August and can be
contacted on 9212 6200 or 0427 426 471.
The full Report will be available on the Inspector's website (www.oics.wa.gov.au)Download : Report of an Announced Inspection of Greenough Regional Prison (PDF)