Minister for Corrections
The Tasmanian Government notes the Custodial Inspector’s review into lockdowns tabled in Parliament today.
Our top priority is to keep Tasmanians safe, and the Custodial Inspector himself notes that lockdowns are a necessary and unavoidable part of our prison system – being used when needed to ensure a safe and secure prison environment for prisoners, staff, and visitors.
We do acknowledge that spending more time out of cells is an important part of prisoner rehabilitation, and the Department of Justice supports all the recommendations in the review, with all but one listed as an existing initiative.
This clearly demonstrates that the Department and the Custodial Inspectorate are largely in agreement with the required approach to improve time out of cells for prisoners in Tasmania. This is why the Tasmania Prison Service (TPS) has dedicated staff working directly with the Custodial Inspector on matters he raises.
Importantly, we have recruited heavily in Correctional Officers since coming to Government, with over 200 extra Correctional Officers employed in our prison system since 2016, including 79 in 2020 alone – despite COVID-19 – with at least two new recruitments planned this year and the first of those underway now.
The contrast with Labor couldn’t be greater, who have failed to promise one additional correctional officer at the last two consecutive elections, and they failed to adequately invest in prison infrastructure during their entire 16 years in government.
Under our Government, there has been considerable investment in the Tasmania Prison Service and we remain committed to addressing challenges within the prison service. That is why we are both upgrading and building the necessary infrastructure as well as recruiting staff at a rate never seen before to address these capacity issues.
Prison management also continues to explore a variety of other strategies to minimise the likelihood of lockdowns in Tasmanian Prison facilities, and takes a planned and structured approach to the use of lockdowns in order to minimise their effects as best as possible.