Barnett Government’s attention to solving of WA prison crowding crisis long overdue: prison officers

Media reports state one of WA's former top judges, Antoinette Kennedy, has today echoed the long-standing concern of prison officers – overcrowding in prisons has reached crisis point and urgent action is needed to fix the problem.

WA Prison Officers’ Union Secretary John Welch said the state’s prison system had long struggled with a booming prison population, with prisoner and prisoner officer safety at risk.

The prison population hit a milestone 5000 inmates in recent weeks, stretching an already crowded system to the limit.

“The fact of the matter is an urgent overcrowding crisis exists in WA prisons. There are 5000 prisoners currently being held in WA prisons in a system designed to hold about 3600,” Mr Welch said today.

“No one can deny our prisons are overcrowded when independent experts like the Western Australian Inspector of Custodial Services acknowledge the occupancy rates in WA’s prisons are much higher than capacity, and former judges feel compelled to speak out.

“Every day, across the state our officers cope with the dangers and rising violence caused by prisoners kept in cramped conditions.

"We believe we need new facilities, we need the staff to run them and we need the Government to fix the prison crowding crisis once and for all,” Mr Welch said.