New prison officers to be recruited from Geraldton

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Geoff VivianMidwest Times
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New trainee prison officers take the oath.
Camera IconNew trainee prison officers take the oath. Credit: Geoff Vivian, The Midwest Times

In the wake of the biggest prison breakout in WA’s history in July last year, Greenough Regional Prison is to have 24 new prison officers recruited from the Geraldton community.

Corrective Services Minister Francis Logan said this was part of the new local recruitment program he announced last year to combat understaffing caused by trained officers leaving town.

“The problem for regional Western Australia is that people tend to transfer out,” he said.

“They come up, stay a certain period of time then go and work elsewhere. That’s what we have to deal with in Geraldton or any regional town and the prison industry is no different.”

WA Corrective Services’ most senior officer, Commissioner Tony Hassall, said the new intake would bring staff numbers up to full capacity.

Mr Hassall said about five further vacancies were expected over the coming months as staff applied for transfers or promotions, so he planned a mid-year intake of another 12 trainees.

The Shuard inquiry identified understaffing as one of the causes of last year’s prison riot.

Mr Logan said the bulk of its recommendations had been implemented, including retraining officers, modifying buildings and fences, and adequate staff numbers.

“With the new management team and the extensive amount of training that’s been done in the areas of security and discipline and dealing with incidents, it’s a different environment now,” he said.

“I think there’s a great deal more confidence by the prison officers themselves that should an incident occur they can handle it in a faster and quicker way than they did before.

“That’s no criticism of what they did before — they were very brave and they did a great job but there were a number of failings.”

Mr Logan said the prison would once again house the full capacity of male prisoners by May.

The department would then decide in which part of the jail to put female prisoners who had been moved to three Perth prisons.

Last week, Mr Logan visited the new recruits, who were due to graduate on May 16.

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