Bandyup Women's Prison reaches crisis point

The WA Prison Officers’ Union has warned that Bandyup women’s prison is at crisis point, after overcrowding reached a new record high.

The prison population was at more than 355 this week, in a prison designed to house around 250 prisoners.

WAPOU Secretary John Welch said if the numbers continued to climb, prisoners would be forced to sleep on mattresses on the floor because there was nowhere else to put them.

“Bandyup has already been double-bunked, which means the government has crammed two prisoners into cells only designed for one person,” he said.

“If the numbers continue to increase, they will be forced to put three prisoners into some of these cells, which is just not humane.”

A report by the Inspector of Custodial Services previously stated that Bandyup was the most overcrowded prison in the state and described it as ‘crowded, disorganised and rundown.’

Mr Welch said the government had no viable plan to deal with the overflowing prison.

“Instead of following our advice and housing female prisoners at the Wandoo Reintegration Facility, the government decided to convert two units at the male Hakea prison,” he said.

“That facility was originally supposed to be opened in the middle of this year, however, building work has already been delayed by at least six months and the government hasn’t even completed the tendering process.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if the units at Hakea take at least another year to come online, while in the meantime, the prison population continues to grow.

“Where is the government planning to put all these extra prisoners? We need something done to alleviate overcrowding now, not in a year’s time.

“It’s becoming increasingly obvious that the Minister Joe Francis has made the wrong decisions and now our members are forced to work in volatile and dangerous conditions because he refused to take our advice.”

The Inspector of Custodial Services Report found that Bandyup already had the highest rate of assaults by prisoners on staff in the state.