The Special Handling Unit (SHU) is a 17-cell secure unit at Casuarina Prison that has been declared by the Commissioner of Corrective Services to be used for the ‘confinement of prisoners who pose a major threat to the prison system’. The unit is separated into two secure wings, with a central control office. Each wing has its own kitchen area, day room and outdoor covered recreation area. There are also rooms for education and visits. Entry to the SHU is restricted to officers on duty within the unit, unless authorisation is granted by the Deputy Superintendent Operations at Casuarina Prison.

The SHU is primarily used as the placement option for prisoners assessed to meet the criteria as a Major Threat Prisoner. These are prisoners who are deemed to pose:

  • a significant and ongoing risk of escape, or
  • a significant and ongoing risk to the security or good order of a prison or prisoners, or
  • a continued and serious threat to staff, visitors or other prisoners.

The Department’s policy states that these prisoners will be placed in the SHU ‘for as long as they are considered Major Threat Prisoners’. It notes that the SHU should be a positive environment and not be used as a form of punishment.

Additionally, other prisoners may be placed in the SHU where necessary. This might include prisoners on a separate confinement order or serving a period of punishment, where no other cells in Casuarina Prison are available. Under the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) and the Terrorism (Prevention Detention) Act 2006 (Cth) the WA Police Force or the Australian Federal Police may also request to use the SHU to hold particular people. However, the Department confirmed this has not occurred in recent years.

Page last updated: October 23, 2023
The Special Handling Unit at Casuarina Prison