Shocking assaults that hospitalised four Correctional Officers overnight have exposed the short-staffing that is risking the safety and lives of staff and inmates in the Tasmania Prisons Service, United Workers Union said today.
“Last night’s violence is a clear message to the Premier that he must end the cutbacks and neglect so Correctional Officers can do the jobs the community expects them to do,” United Workers Union Correctional delegate Phil Pregnell said today.
“When you fail correctional officers, you fail inmates and the community.
“The buck stops with the Premier and I call on him to meet with us urgently to discuss how we can address the problems.
“In the State budget next month the Premier must fund the TPS to fix the short-staffing issues facing the system that contribute to these lockdowns.
“United Workers Union members are angry that their health and safety are being put at risk every day.
“The prisons are not safe for anyone. The needs of detainees are increasing, and our resources are diminishing – everyone is at risk because we are not equipped to deal with the increasing numbers of mentally unwell inmates.”
Last night’s violence arose after lockdowns at Risdon Prison, which usually occur as a result of staff shortages.
After an incident involving one prison officer, the unit that needed to be locked down as a result of short-staffing became unruly and non-compliant when inmates were required to return to their cells.
The incident has angered United Workers Union members given the Corrections Minister has been approached on repeated occasions about under-staffing and disastrous cuts to recruit training, yet the government has refused to act.
“Correctional Officers in Tasmania Prisons Service are caught in a vicious cycle where injuries to staff result in staff shortages, which result in more injuries to staff,” Mr Pregnell said.
“It’s a disgrace that we are facing these issues since the Custodial Inspector’s report raised the harmful impact on staff and inmates of 399 lockdowns in the State’s prison system in the month of December alone.
“Members are concerned that while this Government talk abouts employing 200 additional correctional officers, they neglect to say that 70 staff are injured and another 100 have left the service.
“This is at a time when overcrowding requires additional staff to provide adequate services and the new Remand Centre is opening next year.”