Lives put at risk with renewal of privatised prison transport

The WA Prison Officers Union (WAPOU) has today slammed the WA government’s decision to award global private company, Serco, with the responsibility of WA’s prisoner transport, court security and other custodial services operations.

“The privatisation of any prison service poses a risk because experience around the globe shows that when prison services are privatised, then jobs are cut in order to maximise profits for the company and its shareholders,” said Mr John Walker, Acting Secretary of WAPOU.

“Prisons and prison services should always be held in public hands; they are the responsibility of the state.

“It is clear that private contractors have a profit motive - and where a profit is involved, then corners are likely to be cut, which puts the safety of Prison Officers, transport workers and inmates at risk.

“It’s also illogical to allow the private sector to continue to transport prisoners when private companies are responsible for the two biggest failures in prisoner transportation to date.

“These failures include the death of Mr Ward on a long distance journey in 2008, and the escape of nine prisoners from holding cells at the Supreme Court in 2004.”

The announcement comes only days after the current private-transport contractor G4S pleaded guilty, under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, for failing to ensure the health and well being of Mr Ward.

Earlier this year WAPOU supported a Death in Custody Watch petition demanding that the WA Government terminate the contract of G4S and return custodial transport to the public service – thus making it more accountable to the community and to parliament.

“We’ve all seen the consequences of what happens when G4S fails to do the job properly, so I can only ask - is the private sector immune from criticism no matter how poorly the job is performed?” said Mr Walker.

Prison Officers launched a campaign called ‘Respect the Risk’ in 2010 because WA’s overcrowded prisons have reached breaking point. For more information visit

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