‘It’s just like that Stal­lone movie Lock Up’

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - FRONT PAGE -

A PO­LICE in­tel­li­gence unit is re­fus­ing to con­duct spe­cial­ist op­er­a­tions at a Syd­ney jail be­cause it is be­ing op­er­ated “like the Stal­lone movie Lock Up”.

Con­cerns about cor­rupt guards, out-of-con­trol in­mates and poor man­age­ment have emerged at Parklea Cor­rec­tional Cen­tre af­ter a re­cent string of in­ci­dents, in­clud­ing videos made by a drugged-up in­mate, a guard’s keys be­ing stolen and the stab­bing of a prison of­fi­cer.

The sit­u­a­tion has de­te­ri­o­rated to the point where team mem­bers are re­fus­ing to set foot in­side the prison, wor­ried about be­ing com­pro­mised by in­mates and guards, or left in un­safe ar­eas by poorly trained staff.

The unit, whose work in­volves an el­e­ment of risk and con­sid­er­able plan­ning, re­cently knocked back a re­quest from the Mid­dle Eastern Or­gan­ised Crime Squad to work at the pri­vately op­er­ated prison be­cause of safety con­cerns.

A law en­force­ment of­fi­cial said: “It’s a dis­grace. It’s like the Stal­lone movie Lock Up (pic­tured).”

In the most re­cent in­ci­dent, a prison of­fi­cer was stabbed with a makeshift knife on Septem­ber 28. He sur­vived when it struck his badge, de­flect­ing onto his arm.

A video also emerged in July of an in­mate boast­ing of hav­ing crude weapons and drugs in his cell. He also claimed guards were be­ing paid to smug­gle mo­bile phones to pris­on­ers, with sub­se­quent raids un­cov­er­ing de­vices.

Only seven months ear­lier an in­mate leav­ing Parklea al­legedly stole a guard’s keys, forc­ing the jail to change some of its locks.

In re­sponse, Cor­rec­tive Ser­vices put a gov­er­nor in place to hold a four-week re­view. How­ever, that seems to have in­stilled lit­tle con­fi­dence in the in­tel­li­gence unit, which The Sun­day Tele­graph has agreed not to iden­tify.

GEO Group Aus­tralia, which took over run­ning the jail in 2009, de­nied any break­down in re­la­tions with po­lice.

“The re­la­tion­ship be­tween the Parklea team and the spe­cial­ist unit is first class,” spokesman pokesman Ken Davis said. “We have never heard of, or been no­ti­fied of any dis­satis-fac­tion with our leads or sup­port of their ef­forts. We have worked with them very closely on nu­mer­ous oc­ca­sions.”

Cor­rec­tive Ser­vices said it had not had a for­mal com­plaint but “any is­sues raised would be in­ves­ti­gated”.

Ni­cole Jess, from the Pub­lic Ser­vice As­so­ci­a­tion, said cost cut­ting at the 800man prison had led to staff short­ages.

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