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Using force is sometimes a necessary response in prisons. But it is a major area of risk for both prisoners and staff given the chance of physical injury and psychological trauma when force is used. Unreasonable or inappropriate force also brings legal and reputational risks. It is critical then that prison staff know what force …

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Key findings

No clear definition of use of force The Department of Justice’s new policy streamlines requirements and clearly distinguishes between use of force and use of restraint. However, the policy does not adequately define use of force and this lack of clarity translates to confusion among staff on the ground. This has been compounded by the …

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Prisoner handcuffed and behind bars


The necessity to use force is not uncommon in Western Australian prisons and, therefore, it is critical for prison staff to know what it is and when it can be lawfully used. A new use of force policy, introduced in May 2020, clarifies some elements of confusion that previously existed. But it appears that the …

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Recommendation 1 – Clarify the use of force and restraints policy to remove doubt and ensure accurate and reliable reporting Recommendation 2 – Change policy so prisoners placed in a rip proof gown are only returned to mainstream following an assessment by a mental health professional Recommendation 3 – Investigate the use of trained mental …

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