This report was written during a time of considerable change and debate, including the outsourcing of court custody services at the Perth Children’s Court, delays to the full operational opening of a new police and courts complex in Northbridge, and the release of a major Parliamentary Committee report into police lock-ups.
This Inspector of Custodial Services commented in previous reports that the management of the CS&CS contract is ‘reliant on strong participation by client agencies and communication at all levels … to ensure client needs are met and that contract issues are collectively resolved.’
The difficulties associated with the ‘ownership’ and oversight of the CS&CS contract have persisted for too long without definitive resolution. The Department of the Attorney General is the key client receiving court services under the CS&CS contract, however the courts have little control over the contractor’s service delivery or the management of the contract. At 15 sites, the Department of Corrective Services manages the Serco contract. While the Department of Corrective Services specialise in custodial management, there are other elements of the CS&CS contract that focus solely on servicing the court such as the court orderly, the perimeter guard and the gallery guard. These services have very little association with people in custody, and are more about servicing court users than about custodial management. It is therefore questionable why the Department of Corrective Services, an agency wholly focused on custodial management, is involved in managing the contract for providing court services.
In 2005, when the District Court Building and Central Law Courts were first established, the Commissioner for Corrective Services delegated management of the contract to the Department of the Attorney General.
Unlike the other CS&CS sites, the Department of the Attorney General closely monitor the services provided at the District Court Building and Central Law Courts to ensure transparency, accountability, value for money and appropriate service delivery. The result is a very secure site that is run and monitored effectively and efficiently.
At the time of the inspection the custody centre at Perth Children’s Court was the only custody centre not contracted to the private sector. Services were being provided by Youth Custodial Officers from the Department of Corrective Service and the custody centre was a site of very good practice. The professional manner in which the officers went about their job and the considerate way they interacted with detainees demonstrated that they understood the ‘business’ and enjoyed working with young people.