The Office of the Inspector of Custodial Services is required to inspect and report to Parliament on all of Western Australia’s prisons, juvenile detention centres, court custody centres and prescribed lock up facilities at least once every three years. A full cycle of inspections occurs once all facilities have been visited. The Office is currently undertaking the fifth cycle of inspections.
As part of the inspection process of prisons, standard surveys are conducted of staff and prisoners. Questions generally remain stable through a cycle, and are based on subject areas which reflect the Office’s inspection standards. The method of distribution for each survey is adapted for each prison.
This report provides a summary of findings from the fourth round of inspections conducted from early 2010 to the end of 2012. During this time the prison system was under significant stress from increasing prisoner numbers. In recognition of this, the government allocated a significant amount of funding to a capacity building project that was ongoing throughout this period. Investments were directed almost exclusively at male prisoners, even though there was a disproportionate growth of women prisoners at this time.
Five new units were added to: Albany Regional Prison (one unit) and at Hakea and Casuarina Prisons (two units at each). Most of these new units became operational in 2011-2012. The opening of new units usually corresponded with the closing of other units to allow for renovation. Accommodation units were also added at Karnet Prison Farm, while Pardelup was upgraded from a work camp to a prison. All of these changes caused considerable disruption to various prisons.
In total 13 prisons were surveyed during this cycle, five in the metropolitan area and eight in regional areas. Information from Karnet Prison Farm has not been included in this analysis as the inspection of Karnet took place prior to the development of the 4th cycle’s new standardised survey, and therefore information gained was not comparable.
The first section of this report comments on the responses from the prisoner surveys, while the later section summarises responses from the staff surveys.