Report finds cost cutting has negative impact on Greenough Regional Prison

The WA Prison Officers’ Union has accused the State Government of underfunding Greenough Regional Prison, after an independent report found the prison had been badly affected by cost cuts.

The report by the Inspector of Custodial Services found that the decrease in budget had impacted on operations and services, which were not meeting demand.

The report revealed that 38% of prisoners were under-employed within the prison, and a high proportion of rehabilitation programs were being cancelled.

“When prisoners aren’t engaged, they can become bored and restless, and this can sometimes lead to them lashing out, particularly at staff,” said WAPOU Secretary John Welch.

“Coupled with a spike in prisoner numbers, this has the potential to create a dangerous working environment for our Prison Officers.”

The report also found that despite employing 100 Prison Officers, the prison only had the budget to fund 89.

“This has too often led to the restriction of overtime that is needed, and too frequently we see the redeployment of staff, which leads to curtailing access to programs and education and sometimes the lock down of prisoners due to staff shortages,” said Mr Welch.

“As the report points out, these cuts have negatively affected the relationship between staff and management.”

A survey done by the Inspector’s office found that 57% of Prison Officers believed support from management was ‘poor’, while only 12% rated it as ‘good’.

Similarly, 51% of Prison Officers believed communication from management was ‘poor’, while only 10% rated it as ‘good’.

Mr Welch said the union was also concerned by the report’s finding that the prison had ongoing issues with vermin, including mice and cockroaches.