Prison Annual Report Highlights Concerns

The Department of Corrections Annual Report released yesterday has highlighted the possibility of infiltration of the Corrections Department "by criminal or extremist elements".

The Report also found that "violent/criminal activity in prison or in the community by extremist groups, gangs, or outlaw motor cycle gangs (OMCG)," as the other key risk requiring management by the Corrections Department.

"Labor’s management of our Corrections system is a shambles and the risks identified by Corrections officials in the Annual Report remind us why the Weatherill Government needs to lift its game," said Shadow Correctional Services Minister John Gardner.

"This year has seen major industrial action narrowly averted, a capacity crisis with record prisoner numbers overflowing into police cells, and significant concerns regularly raised by prison officers about their safety.

"This week the Police Commissioner raised concerns about police operations being negatively impacted by the use of police cells to hold prisoners. Recently we’ve seen examples of mental health beds being unavailable for the general public due to overflowing from James Nash House.

"The Weatherill Government has taken its eye off the ball in prisons and the Minister now needs to outline a long-term plan to get us past this crisis and restore public confidence in the system."

The Corrections Annual Report also highlighted a significant increase in searches conducted on prisoners - up from 83,199 in 2012-13 to 145,022 in 2013-14.

"The problem is Corrections doesn’t have its own dog squad to ensure that such searches are as effective as possible," said Mr Gardner.

"Around Australia it is standard for prison systems to be able to call on a dog squad to assist in searching for narcotics and other contraband.

"Interstate dog squads are developing extraordinary new capacities, such as being able to detect mobile phones by the smell of the battery, but in South Australia we are lagging behind yet again.

"The fact that the Department has conducted an extra 60,000 searches this year highlights how important these searches are, but without a dog squad we’re deprived of a key tool in our armoury."