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Overcrowding ‘undeniably’ leading to more prison assaults

The Queensland union representing prison officers says it’s “undeniable” overcrowding in prisons is leading to more assaults.

Last month, a 45-year-old prison officer suffered serious injuries after he was allegedly bashed by an inmate at a high-security facility north of Brisbane.

The attack reportedly occurred at Woodford Correctional Centre after the inmate was told he’d have to share a cell.

The brutal assault left the officer with multiple fractures to his face and he’s since undergone surgery.

The attack sparked industrial action, with prison officers walking off the job to call for additional resources and action on overcrowding.

A report by the Crime and Corruption Commission handed down last month found overcrowding in jails has led to an increase in assaults.

Together Union’s industrial services director Michael Thomas tells Deborah Knight the problem is “undeniable”.

“It still comes down to capacity,” he says.

“We either need to have more prisons, or less prisoners.”

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Mr Thomas says prison officers want both short and long-term solutions.

“In the short term, we need more staff available on the floor that can intervene.”

In a statement to The Chris Smith Show, a spokesperson for Queensland Corrective Services Minister Mark Ryan says talks are underway between the government and the Together Union (see full statement below).

“As the Minister has previously stated, the Palaszczuk Government has made significant investments to expand the capacity of our correctional facilities since we came to government in 2015.

This includes recommissioning the Borallon Training and Correctional Centre and boosting capacity there by more than 700 beds, and the expansion of the Capricornia Correctional Centre with almost 400 extra beds.

This includes recommissioning the Borallon Training and Correctional Centre and boosting capacity there by more than 700 beds, and the expansion of the Capricornia Correctional Centre with almost 400 extra beds.

Those expansions allowed another important decision to be made. The Southern Queensland Correctional Centre was transformed into a women’s prison, which was its original purpose, in a move that ended overcrowding at the Brisbane women’s prison.

Late last year, the Palaszczuk Government announced $15 million for 1,000 additional beds. By 2020-21, we will have delivered up to 3,000 new beds in prisons across Queensland.

Talks are already underway between government and the Together Union. We have agreed to work in good faith with the unions. We share a common goal.

Safety must be front and centre at all times. The Government is confident that by working together we can achieve outcomes that will be in everyone’s best interests.”

Deborah Knight
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