This was the second inspection of Acacia prison under Serco management. The first was conducted in 2007 and focused on evaluating Serco’s performance as a new operator. The 2007 inspection concluded that changing operators from AIMS to Serco had been a good move and the prison had improved in a number of tangible ways. Acacia was referred to as being ‘on the cusp of becoming a very good prison’.
In 2007, the contract was still in its infancy, so it was difficult to evaluate the effectiveness of new prison regimes and value systems. Therefore the 2007 inspection focused on the achievements and challenges at that point in time. Some of Serco’s early achievements included:
- No escapes or serious incidents.
- No deaths in custody.
- Low levels of self-harm.
- Management of protection prisoners.
- Introduction of menu choice.
- Strong re-entry services.
- Improved health services.
- Timely delivery of offender treatment programs.
The weaker areas included:
- Repeated and regular closing of industries due to staffing levels.
- Maintenance deficits.
- Poor communication between management and staff.
- A lack of clear rules and procedures.
- Underdeveloped Aboriginal policies and strategies.
- Weakness in education.
The 2011 inspection moved from simply focusing on Serco’s delivery of service quality, and further integrated value for money, accountability and transparency and the opportunities for system-wide learning into the inspection themes.