Freedom of Information documents have revealed that a draft Memorandum of Administrative Arrangement was sent between SAPOL and the Department of Corrections to clarify the administrative relationship and the cost burden of Corrections' use of police cells.
It remains unsigned more than a year later with the Corrections Department "unable to consider authorising a financial commitment for the Department for which I have no allocated budget" (Corrections CEO David Brown's letter 12/2/15).
There is no money allocated within the Corrections Department Budget for prisoners overflowing into police cells, which is a key factor in why the Government overspent its Corrections Budget in 2014/15 by $9 million.
There is no sign on the horizon that a similar overspend won't occur again this year despite extra money being allocated.
Commissioner Burns also identified that the Sturt police cells would no longer be available for use by the Corrections Department – leaving the City Watch House and Holden Hill as the only two police overflow facilities now available.
Use of the basement of the Watch House has also been withdrawn.
In a letter dated March this year, Police Commissioner Gary Burns went as far as to say that in additional to the financial cost to police: "there are also intangible costs re public safety, service delivery, and operational safety".
"Consistent overflow from prisons into police cells presents an ongoing operational problem for police and has a corresponding impact on public safety," said Shadow Minister for Correctional Services John Gardner.
"These FOI documents highlight the stark reality of the prison capacity crisis that has been allowed to develop after 13 years of failure in the justice area by the Labor Government.
"There is an extraordinary financial burden to the taxpayers, and any additional costs borne by SA Police come at the expense of community safety activities that SAPOL should be spending its budget on."