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Extra prison beds welcome

5 November 2004

Extra prison beds welcome – but prison staffing problem remains

New funding announced today to build an additional 213 prison beds will help ease overcrowding, but prison officer recruitment problems remain says the Public Service Association (PSA).

The Department of Corrections currently needs an additional 300 prison officers and predicts this figure will grow to 1,500 staff as new prisons are opened over the next four years.

PSA National Secretary Richard Wagstaff said the prison officer understaffing situation will present an even more serious problem when the new beds become available.

“Corrections staff are working very hard to safely manage a significantly larger prison muster than expected. This has included longer working hours and the recent agreement to introduce double bunking at some prisons.

“These extra beds will relieve the pressure on police cells and we welcome them for that reason. But the staffing problem remains unresolved.

“Salaries continue to be a major impediment to prison officer recruitment. Potential prison officers can be paid the same or better wages working elsewhere, without the stress and long working hours.

“Until the salaries question is addressed staffing the nation’s bulging prisons will continue to be a headache for the government,” Richard Wagstaff said.

ENDS

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