The low number of escapes (70) and attempted escapes (38) from January 2008 to August 2014 indicates that the Department has generally been very successful in managing risk. In particular, there have been very few escapes from truly ‘secure’ places such as maximum or medium security prisons, secure prisoner transport services or courts. The majority of escapes have occurred from low security situations such as work camps, minimum security prisons, and external activities organised through such facilities. The number of such escapes from low security situations has been extremely low when placed alongside the number of opportunities.
This review found that most escapes are opportunistic and do not involve well thought out plans and preparation. Heightened vigilance of staff members to opportunistic risks, particularly when managing people outside custodial facilities, is therefore essential in managing the risk of escape. It is also essential that mechanisms to prevent escape, including the use of restraints and properly following policies and procedures, are carried out correctly and consistently.
Overall, the Department’s responses to escapes demonstrate significant learning from one incident to the next. However it has room to improve in some areas, in particular improving its escape alert system and monitoring the impact of its changes to policy and procedure.