Laws to establish an independent Inspector of Detention Services introduced

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Minister for Women and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence The Honourable Shannon Fentiman

The Palaszczuk Government has introduced new legislation into Parliament to establish an independent inspector to oversee the State’s detention facilities.

Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman said the Bill delivered on government commitments to establish an independent inspectorate over adult correctional facilities, youth detention centres and police watchhouses.

“This Bill will create further oversight into our State’s detention facilities to prevent harm and to improve detention services,” Minister Fentiman said.

“The proposed Inspector of Detention Services will have broad powers to inspect all of these facilities as well as review detention services that are provided at a place of detention.

“We committed to introducing this role in response to recommendations from a range of independent reviews into Queensland criminal justice system, including the Sofronoff Review, the Taskforce Flaxton report and the Independent Review of Youth Detention.

“While many of the places of detention have existing accountability and oversight frameworks, there is no one body responsible for the independent oversight of these facilities’ operations through a system of regular inspections.”

Minister for Police and Corrective Services Mark Ryan said the Inspector will have the power to conduct both pre-arranged and random inspections of a place of detention and will also review or monitor a detention service at any time.

“The Inspector will also conduct mandatory annual inspections of youth detention centres and undertake inspections at least once every five years of high security sections of prisons and major watch-houses, as prescribed under a regulation,” Minister Ryan said.

“Responsibilities of the role also include preparing and publishing standards in relation to the conduct of inspections, reporting to the Legislative Assembly on their inspection outcomes and recommendations

“These responsibilities will help ensure that the inspectorate supports efforts to promote and uphold the humane treatment and conditions of the people detained.”

The position of Inspector would be held by the Queensland Ombudsman, who would be supported in the role by the Office of the Ombudsman.

The Inspector’s functions would not include investigating incidents (such as riots, deaths and escapes) or investigating individual complaints.

These investigative functions would remain the responsibility of other bodies such as, Queensland Corrective Services, the Department of Children, Youth Justice and Multicultural Affairs, the Queensland Police Service, the Crime and Corruption Commission and the jurisdiction of the Coroner.

Minister for Children and Youth Justice Leanne Linard said the Inspector will be able to make recommendations aimed at promoting and upholding the humane treatment and conditions of people detained in these facilities.

“The Inspector will report transparently and independently on the conditions in places of detention and will have a preventative and proactive mandate, with a focus on improving places of detention,” Minister Linard said.

“This Bill is yet another demonstration of our commitment to promoting human rights.”

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