Police Cells


Mr GARDNER (Morialta) (14:52): My question is to the Minister for Correctional Services. Has the minister or the corrections department received any advice from South Australia Police that cells currently used as surge capacity in the police cells will have reduced availability after the next year?

The Hon. A. PICCOLO (LightMinister for Disabilities, Minister for Police, Minister for Correctional Services, Minister for Emergency Services, Minister for Road Safety) (14:52): I thank the honourable member for his question. I can advise the member that on that specific information I do not think we have been advised. However, I have been advised and I have sought advice from my own agency that we anticipate that the cells will still be available and, secondly, that the advice I have received from SAPOL is that our current use of surge beds is not having a negative impact on their operations.

Mr GARDNER (Morialta) (14:53): A supplementary, sir: given the minister's answer, can he advise whether he agrees with Commissioner Burns who said on radio in relation to remand prisoners in police cells that it was like playing musical chairs and in fact that there were impacts on operational capacity when cells were unavailable for police who were making an arrest and that was their closest station?

The Hon. A. PICCOLO (LightMinister for Disabilities, Minister for Police, Minister for Correctional Services, Minister for Emergency Services, Minister for Road Safety) (14:53): I thank the honourable member for his question. The commissioner went to great lengths this morning to explain that as police commissioner he holds, if you like, the title to the cells but they are actually managed by Corrections. I have nothing to add to that opinion expressed by the commissioner. He is quite correct there. What I can also say is that Corrections officers do their best to make sure that people who are sent to gaol for whatever reason are housed and the community is kept safe.

Mr GARDNER (Morialta) (14:54): A supplementary, sir: can the minister advise perhaps if the Sturt or Holden Hill police cells are full of prisoners on remand, then is—

The Hon. A. Koutsantonis: 'If, if'—therefore, it is hypothetical.

Mr Marshall: When.

Mr GARDNER: When, as many times in recent days, police cells at Holden Hill or Sturt are full with prisoners on remand, where is a police officer who makes an arrest in the vicinities of those stations supposed to take the person who has just been arrested?

Mr van Holst Pellekaan interjecting:

The SPEAKER: The member for Stuart is warned. Minister.

The Hon. A. PICCOLO (LightMinister for Disabilities, Minister for Police, Minister for Correctional Services, Minister for Emergency Services, Minister for Road Safety) (14:54): I thank the honourable member for his question. All I can advise the honourable member is that that matter hasn't been brought to my attention, so we—

Mr Marshall interjecting:

The SPEAKER: The leader is called to order.

The Hon. A. PICCOLO: The most recent advice I have received from both SAPOL and Corrections is that the two agencies work together to make sure that if people are arrested they need to be housed or people are sentenced they are.

Mr GARDNER: A supplementary, sir.

The SPEAKER: The member for Morialta.

Mr GARDNER (Morialta) (14:55): I am not sure if the minister heard the commissioner this morning, but is the minister investigating claims made on radio this morning that a prisoner was kept in a holding cell for three weeks without the opportunity to have a shower even?

The Hon. A. PICCOLO (LightMinister for Disabilities, Minister for Police, Minister for Correctional Services, Minister for Emergency Services, Minister for Road Safety) (14:55): I thank the honourable member for his question. I did hear the comment made by a person who referred to himself as Michael and who alleged, first of all, that his son had been held in these cells. We have made inquiries to find out the background to that. Unfortunately, with the number of people who work through our system, we need some more information to work out whether that allegation is accurate or not—and it is an allegation at this stage.

Secondly, I am not suggesting that the person is not telling the truth; what I am suggesting is that the information provided on radio was insufficient to identify any person. What I can say is that our policy is as follows for the holding of prisoners in police cells. First of all, it is policy to ensure that prisoners are able to shower daily. Whether they choose to shower daily or not is a different matter, but they have the opportunity to shower daily. They also are showered under the supervision of Corrections staff, for obvious reasons. They also have an opportunity to change their clothing daily.

In the Sturt cells, there are six single cells and two double cells for a total of 10 prisoners, so I would have thought that if a person had not showered for 21 days it might come to the attention of a Corrections officer. In addition to that, there is a whole range of other rights which prisoners have in our cells, but if that person is concerned about the welfare of their child they should ring my office with some more details. I will be happy to investigate and have the integrity people look at it.

Mr GARDNER (Morialta) (14:57): Given the minister's indication that the department has been unable to identify this individual, how many prisoners have been on remand for more than three weeks in the South Australian corrections system and in police cells?

The Hon. A. PICCOLO (LightMinister for Disabilities, Minister for Police, Minister for Correctional Services, Minister for Emergency Services, Minister for Road Safety) (14:57): First of all, we need to verify that it was three weeks or that it wasn't three weeks. Given that we have no name, and given that the police cells are determined as short-term stays, the number of people who go through the system is quite a few, obviously. As I said, in terms of the allegation made this morning, if we are given some more information, if the member has more information, I would be happy to investigate it.