Female prisoners forced to sleep on the floor at Bandyup Prison

The overcrowding at WA’s women’s prison has become so severe, female prisoners have been forced to sleep on the floor.

This week, the prison population hit a record 402 prisoners, in a prison designed to hold only around 250 prisoners.

WA Prison Officers’ Union Secretary John Welch said Bandyup had run out of cells, so three prisoners were being crammed into cells originally designed for one.

“We’re now at the point with Bandyup where prisoners are being triple-bunked, which means one person is forced to sleep on a mattress on the floor,” he said.

“This is a deplorable situation, and is completely unsustainable.

“Prisons that are this overcrowded become very volatile places, which puts the safety of our Prison Officers at risk.

“If the female prison population continues to rise, which we expect it will, we are going to run out of places to put people.”

Mr Welch said the government had failed to heed the union’s warning about the impending crises.

“We had been warning the government for years that this problem was coming, but it waited until the situation was almost at crises point before it acted.

“Construction of a 256 bed facility at Hakea men’s prison is finally underway, but those units won’t be available for months.

“Where are we supposed to put all these prisoners in the meantime?”

Mr Welch said the union was very concerned that the new units were not going to be ready to open in December as planned.

“The government has chosen a private UK based company which has no experience in WA as its preferred provider to operate the new women’s facility,” he said.

“We don’t think there’s much chance this company is
going to be able to establish its operations in WA in time to manage all the pressures of opening this facility as scheduled.

“And if there is a delay, the situation at Bandyup is only going to get worse, both for the prisoners and for our Prison Officers.”