Prison officers vow to turn away inmates once jails fill to capacity

LOCAL prison officers have joined their counterparts across the state vowing to turn away inmates once a full house is declared as part of a campaign to secure more entitlements.

The Public Service Association of NSW confirmed Glen Innes and Tamworth Correctional Centre staff will refuse new inmates entry at the two facilities once they reach capacity, despite the rising prison population.

“If there is capacity to take new prisoners they will, but once it gets to full, they will not overcrowd,” North West delegate Stephen Mears said yesterday.

While The Leader understands there are a number of beds still available for inmates in Tamworth, the ban on new prisoners will mean inmates will need to be held in court cells or police 

custody if all the allocated capacity is reached.

Mr Mears said the ban was part of a fight to secure the same workers compensation entitlements as police.

“These guys are at risk on a daily basis, and they should be adequately compensated if they’re injured doing their job,” he said.

“It’s about their safety at work.”

Statistics released by the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) revealed the state’s prison population jumped 13 per cent in a year, and was sitting at 10,917 in March.

Mr Mears said local prison officers are at a loss if they get injured on the job because of state government reforms to workers entitlements.

“In essence a penalty is applied to you for being injured,” he said.

“It is the most dangerous workplace in the state, if not the country.

“They’ve already drastically reduced staffing levels with the ratio of officer to prisoner and it heightens the ever present risk of violence by frustrated prisoners.”

But the Corrective Services NSW Commissioner Peter Severin has rejected the overcrowding concerns and denies prison officers are put at increased risk because of rising numbers.

“It’s true inmate numbers have increased over the past year. Numbers fluctuate all the time,” Commissioner Severin said. 

“But inmates continue to be housed safely and securely. 

“There is no evidence of increased violence against officers or between inmates.”

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