Inspections

Under sections 19-20 of the Inspector of Custodial Services Act 2003 (the Act) we must inspect and report to Parliament at least once every three years on the following sites:

  • 17 prisons
  • five prison work camps
  • youth detention centres
  • all court custody centres
  • police lock ups that have been ‘prescribed’ to be used as court custody centres.

We also have jurisdiction to inspect prisoner transport arrangements but, unlike prisons, are not required to report on this every three years.

We use the following methodology for our inspections:

Liaison

The full value of an inspection system cannot be realised if activities are limited to reports of inspections once every three years. More effective is a process of ‘continuous inspection’ that allows performance and risks to be monitored and identified for the Minister, the Government and Parliament on an ongoing basis. ‘Liaison visits’ are one of the most important tools that the Inspector uses to enable continuous inspection.

We conduct regular ‘liaison visits’ to all places of custody in our jurisdiction. These visits are a crucial element in monitoring performance, risk and improvement opportunities. In addition to liaison visits, we also visit sites on a less formal basis.

Our visit schedule reflects risk, and therefore varies between sites and over time. We visit most prisons at least four times each year, and the higher risk prisons and Banksia Hill Detention Centre at least six times a year. We generally visit work camps and court custody centres at least once a year.

Liaison visits can be announced or unannounced. We usually give some advance notice so the facilities can help us engage with relevant staff and people in custody, but it is common for visits to be conducted at short notice. We will do unannounced visits as necessary or appropriate.

Review

The Inspector of Custodial Services Amendment Act 2011 was enacted in response to the Coronial inquest into the heat-related death of Aboriginal elder, Mr. Ward, in a prisoner transport vehicle. It expanded and embedded the Inspector’s powers to examine aspects of custodial services and the experience of individuals or groups of people in custody. We developed our review function to exercise these powers.

We analyse  multiple sources of information to derive and validate findings. These include academic and professional reviews, evidence from other jurisdictions, and data from the Department’s offender management database. We also use other departmental documents, as well as advice from stakeholders and service providers.

Like inspections, reviews lead to findings and may include advice and recommendations. Since 2012, we have addressed a wide range of topics relating to security, safety, health, welfare, rehabilitation and management.

Processes have been developed to assist the Inspector identify and select review topics in an objective and robust way, as follows:

If you would like to become an Independent Visitor or require further information, please contact the Coordinator of the service on 6551 4221 or email: independentvisitors@oics.wa.gov.au

The Independent Visitor Service is an integral part of the State’s accountability mechanisms. Under the Act, the Minister for Corrective Services appoints Independent Visitors (‘IVs’) on the advice of the Inspector. The Inspector administers and supports the service on behalf of the Minister. IV reports assist the Inspector to provide advice to the Minister and to inform the work of the Office.

The IVs are an experienced and diverse group of community volunteers who bring skill, insight, and common sense to the role. They make a valuable contribution to resolving issues and improving oversight.

People held in prisons and detention centres can meet with IVs and raise concerns about their treatment and conditions. Before leaving the facility, IVs debrief with the Superintendent or Deputy Superintendent so matters can be resolved as soon as possible.

 

 

What we don’t do

The authority of the Office of the Inspector of Custodial Services is provided through the Inspector of Custodial Services Act 2003.  The office role is to give independent advice to Parliament on state of custodial facilities and the rights of staff and people in detention.  The Office works alongside other accountability agencies in WA as well as government agencies who protect the rights of individuals and provide impartial resolution services.  Each of these agencies has a predefined role which cannot be duplicated by this Office.

This Office does not investigate fraud or other criminal matters

The Inspector of Custodial Services cannot investigate criminal matters. If such a matter is brought to our attention or we become aware of it through our work, then it is automatically passed to the Police or the  Corruption and Crime Commission.

This Office doesn’t investigate complaints relating to individuals

The Inspector of Custodial Services does not investigate complaints made by staff, prisoners, detainees or their families.  While it is often important that this Office understands the nature of a complaint this information is only used to understand whether systemic issues are occurring in the corrections system.  The Office cannot facilitate a resolution of a complaint for an individual.  Such matters are the mandate of the Ombudsman, Equal Opportunities Commission, or in the case of health or disability matters the Health and Disability Services Complaints Office (HaDSCO).

Page last updated: 15 Nov 2023

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