More officers assaulted at Hakea Prison

With Perth’s temperature continuing to rise tempers are beginning to flare in the state’s overcrowded prison system.

At least three prison officers at Hakea Prison were assaulted yesterday in the latest confrontation at a Western Australian prison.

The incident occurred after two prisoners were discovered in a unit where they were not supposed to be and as a consequence when prison officers intervened to remove the intruders the prisoners assaulted the responding officers.

One officer has suspected broken ribs while another two suffered cuts and bruises. A fourth officer received a face full of mace in the melee.

The incident was significant enough to cause half the prison to close down for a number of hours.

These assaults bring the number of prison officers attacked at work to nearly one hundred this year.

WA Prison Officers’ Union Secretary John Welch said that Perth’s current heatwave was adding further pressure in the system with the conditions in prisons similar to being in a pressure cooker. “We just hope that boiling point is not reached.”

Mr Welch said that these latest assaults proved what the union has been saying for months, that being a prison officer is a dangerous job and that prison officers deserve better pay and conditions for the risks they take.

In October this year the WA Prison Officers’ Union relaunched the “Respect the Risk “ campaign to get a fairer deal for Prison Officers from the Barnett Government.

Prison officers are calling for better pay and conditions for officers, proper staffing levels at prisons and new prison facilities to deal with the chronic overcrowding in the prison system.

After dragging their feet for months the Barnett Government recently opened talks with Prison Officers for a new enterprise bargaining agreement but the union says they are disappointed with the pace of negotiations and the government’s underwhelming offer.

“The Barnett Government needs to show respect to the men and women working in Western Australia’s jails by better funding the system and paying prison officers a fairer wage for the risks they face,” Mr Welch said.