Staff complained, amongst other things, that they had repeatedly expressed concern about the security of unit offices and nothing had been done. The offices have undergone significant target hardening following the riot.
However, questions must also be asked about staff adherence to basic security requirements. Despite some efforts by management, and some very critical findings by a departmental security assessment in November 2012, staff had continued to take items into operational areas that were not permitted. They included mobile phones and medications (the risks of which are obvious), car keys and tinned food (both of which could be used to make weapons or tools), bags and wallets. On the night of the riot, detainees rifled through staff possessions.
A 2009 management instruction clearly stated that items such as phones, wallets, lighters, keys and medications were not permitted within operational areas and were to be secured in the staff amenities area. Staff who breached such instructions were potentially subject to disciplinary proceedings under the Young Offenders Regulations. However, despite this being a long-term problem no staff have been disciplined, at least since January 2012. The Department also advised the Inquiry that it had reimbursed at least one officer for the cost of personal items stolen during the riot. Staff who take personal items on site must change their behaviour and the Department must be less passive about taking disciplinary action for breaches of management instructions.
The Inquiry team found staff office stations to be in poor shape and cluttered. There appeared to be no secure storage and, as a result, items such as scissors were left unsecured. Medical kits were poorly maintained and despite reminders, staff were not always complying with requirements regarding uniforms and identification. Again, these are simple matters which must be addressed.
Staff complained to the Inquiry that there are gaps in CCTV coverage of the site. However, the Department was not able to provide the Inquiry with a CCTV coverage map so it is not possible to confirm this. Maps of CCTV coverage should be available for every custodial facility.
Inquiry team members experienced for themselves a telling example of the security culture. Having observed a flashing red light on the roof of a building, they approached a number of staff to ask what it meant. The majority of staff approached did not know that it indicated that a duress alarm had been activated in the vicinity. This showed a dangerously lax culture marked by a lack of observation, curiosity and initiative, and possibly a lack of training.
In addition, other physical and procedural security failings were also evident in the months preceding the riot. Many of them were depressingly basic, including:
- Custodial facilities must be able to account for people and yet, somehow, an incorrect detainee count continued for a period of three days in November 2012.
- Line of sight from unit offices, a key requirement at any site and part of the fundamental design intent at Banksia Hill, had been obscured by notices placed on office windows.
- Perimeter checks are not properly logged and there is uncertainty about the frequency of such checks.
- Banksia Hill has not adopted sufficiently robust practices with respect to the screening of visitors.
- Low shrubbery makes searching for concealed items difficult.
- External clothes lines on the outside of units are solid enough to support a detainee’s weight and to be used as a ladder.