- The Department of Justice (the Department) has responsibility for ensuring safe and effective court security and custodial services. In 2021 two separate oversight mechanisms had responsibility for its two contracts.
- The Court Risk Assessment Directorate evaluated potential threats to the secure operation of all courts (of both contracts) across the state and recommended mitigation strategies. Briefings were detailed and timely.
- The Senior Officers Group brought court users together to refine cross-agency delivery of all court custody and security services.
- In addition, the Department had separate governance arrangements for the CBD Courts Contract and the CSCS Contract.
- Under the CBD Contract, the Department’s Contract Management Branch had day-to-day oversight of contractors WLG and G4S.
- The CBD Courts were busier than ever and G4S’s resources were stretched, but the Department’s latest CBD Courts Contract Annual Report summarised WLG’s performance positively.
- WLG and the Department had jointly delivered infrastructure improvements.
- We observed G4S staff interacted professionally and respectfully with people in custody.
- The CSCS Contract had been revised in 2017 with an expanded scope of services and operational improvements, and at a saving to the state.
- In May 2020, Ventia had acquired BRS, and with it, responsibility for the contract.
- Ventia had introduced a secure mobile tablet to record details of custodial operations and people in custody.
- Ventia had revised its Courthouse Briefing Templates. They will provide benchmarks for custodial infrastructure and procedure that will support continuous improvement.
- The Department’s latest CSCS Annual Report noted that Ventia’s performance failures and abatements had risen during 2020–2021.
- Despite a high standard of service delivery, our pre-inspection survey of Ventia staff showed some dissatisfaction with staff numbers at some sites.
- The CSCS Contract was due for renewal or re-tendering in March 2022. The Department delayed confirmation of a 12-month extension to the contract until three months before the contract expired.
- Leaving the decision to extend the contract so late had placed Ventia in a difficult commercial position.
- We recommended that when re-tendering the CSCS Contract, the Department must adhere to the contractual detail of that process.
- As in 2018, our site inspections of courthouses around the state revealed significant variation in the quality of infrastructure and security systems.
- We recommended that The Department should undertake a review of infrastructure and security at all court custody facilities across the state to ensure a consistent high standard and level of service.