The Department often makes changes to policy and procedure in response to an escape. Since the beginning of 2014 alone, there have been at least 13 changes following the seven escape incidents recorded in 2014. These have included:
- Changes to the approval process for non-essential movements
- Changes to restraint use
- Changes to the assessment of security ratings.
Changes to the approval process for non-essential movements resulted in one woman being denied access to her son’s funeral. This change was rescinded after only nine days, however the impact on this woman was devastating.
Changes to restraint use has included an introduction of the need for double cuffs to be used for all people accessing external medical assistance. This has resulted in the bizarre situation where prisoners who are trusted to leave prison on a daily basis to undertake work in the community, are required to have a two-officer escort, in restraints, if they need to go to hospital. This blanket policy change is problematic. While tightening of the policy for some prisoners to access medical appointments may have been necessary, a prisoner who regularly works in the community without abusing the trust given to them should not require this level of restraint when seeking medical assistance.
The changes to security rating assessments has resulted in the number of minimum security prisoners dropping by more than 120 prisoners. It has also had the unintended result of doubling the numbers of maximum security prisoners. This has cost implications for the state and more importantly affects the number of people that are able to access specialised rehabilitation services.