Use of force in prisons: job numbers critical
The NSW Ombudsman’s review into the use of force in the state’s prisons contains useful recommendations, but ignores the critical issue – job numbers, the NSW Public Service Association says.
The NSW Public Service Association has welcomed the NSW Ombudsman’s review of policy and practice around the use of force in the state’s prisons, particularly recommendations for better prison officer training and improvements in CCTV systems.
However, the union says the special report’s recommendations do not address a key driver of dangerous situations in our state’s jails – massive and ongoing job cuts in prison officer and correction staff numbers.
“The NSW Ombudsman’s report fails to recognise that dramatic job cuts have not left enough prison officers and correctional staff to effectively operate the state’s jails,” said Matt Bindley, chair of the PSA’s Prison Officers Vocational Branch.
“The State Government is putting at risk the safety of NSW prison officers and increasing the likelihood of the use of force by closing jails such as Grafton and cutting prison officer numbers.
“Reducing prison officer numbers makes it more difficult for officers to control inmates and increases the chance of dangerous situations arising.
“There has been growing pressure on prison officers as they cope with the impacts of job cuts already introduced over the past year.
“Prison officers are thin on the ground in many correctional facilities, including those used to house some of the NSW’s most dangerous and high-risk offenders.
“Inmates are spending longer periods of time locked in their cells, less time out in yards or on visits, with rising tension and potential for dangerous and unpredictable incidents.
“We look forward to the opportunity of further discussion with the NSW Government not only on the recommendations of today’s report but on ways to find savings without cutting frontline prison jobs,” [spokesperson] said.