Se­cu­rity up­grade ‘a jail fail’

The Courier-Mail - - NEWS - THOMAS CHAMBERLIN

QUEENS­LAND jail au­thor­i­ties are spend­ing $80 mil­lion up­grad­ing a perime­ter mon­i­tor­ing sys­tem that is worse and less se­cure than the orig­i­nal, dis­grun­tled of­fi­cers have re­vealed.

The of­fi­cers said they were not con­sulted on the new sys­tem, and its flaws could mean more se­cu­rity in­ci­dents go­ing un­no­ticed, such as peo­ple throw­ing drugs over fences.

Con­trol-room op­er­a­tors used to face cam­eras out­side the jail to cap­ture drug drops or se­cu­rity breaches, but they said the up­graded mon­i­tors only switched on if a perime­ter fence was breached.

The up­grades in­cluded perime­ter de­tec­tion sys­tems, cam­eras, light­ing and dig­i­tal record­ing sys­tems.

“It’s ab­so­lute mad­ness,” an of­fi­cer said of the new sys­tem. “They were go­ing on with some rub­bish about in­for­ma­tion fa­tigue.

“They have down­graded the se­cu­rity, not in­creased it.

“The old sys­tem had more op­tions and flex­i­bil­ity; you could bring up any zones, cam­eras, any­thing at will.”

Perime­ter se­cu­rity had been beefed up over the years, such as when pris­oner Bren­den Abbott es­caped from Wa­col’s Sir David Long­land jail in 1997.

But the New­man gov­ern­ment re­duced night dog squad op­er­a­tions, ac­cord­ing to the To­gether Union, whose in­dus­trial ser­vices direc­tor, Michael Thomas, said the perime­ter up­grade was “tak­ing it back­wards” even fur­ther.

“The peo­ple sit­ting be­hind a desk in Bris­bane’s CBD, it ap­pears they just as­sumed they knew bet­ter,” he said. “No one said, ‘well hang on, that’s not the way they are be­ing used now, let’s do an anal­y­sis and talk to the peo­ple in mas­ter con­trol who ac­tu­ally do the job’.”

Mr Thomas said Cor­rec­tive Ser­vices had since agreed to al­low wall mon­i­tors to show im­ages even if a perime­ter hadn’t been breached, but there was still ma­jor is­sues with the up­grade. An ex­tra 32-inch mon­i­tor was also be­ing in­stalled, but it wasn’t as big as an ex­ist­ing screen.

A QCS spokes­woman said it was work­ing with del­e­gates to “come to an agree­ment to en­sure a safe work­ing en­vi­ron­ment for staff and the in­tegrity of prison se­cu­rity”.

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