Corrective Services addresses prison riots, guards charged
BAD behaviour from prisoners and alleged misconduct by prison officers has marred the latest milestone celebration for the expansion of the Capricornia Correctional Centre.
Following two prisoner riots and seven correctional officers being suspended and charged over the past month, yesterday's press conference in front of the prison was an uncomfortable situation for Deputy Commissioner James Koulouris.
Just the night before, the Correctional Centre's second prisoner riot had resulted in a standoff with prisoners on the roof of the building and injuries to two prison officers.
He said investigations were continuing and wouldn't provide further details.
A QCS spokesperson said it wasn't a "riot", it was a "Code Silver - prisoners on roof".
"The code was called at 3pm, and the prisoners had surrendered by 6.30pm," the spokesperson said.
"One officer who responded courageously to try to apprehend one of the prisoners was hit in the back by a piece of wood. He continued his shift, but later sought medical assistance.
"A second officer injured their leg while responding to the incident."
He said the incident was resolved when officers successfully negotiated for the prisoners to surrender and come off the roof voluntarily.
"There is no indication at this stage that the two incidents are linked beyond the involvement of two of the prisoners in both incidents. These prisoners face disciplinary action, and potentially further criminal charges," they said.
"Prisoners who are involved in critical incidents may be transferred to another prison and be placed in a more secure environment such as a MSU, depending on circumstances.
"Prisons are highly dynamic environments, with many prisoners having a history of mental health issues, violence and anti-social behaviour."
This meant that it was impossible to ever fully remove the risk of incidents like this occurring from time to time.
"We are committed to supporting our officers with the appropriate training, equipment, technology and policy support to enable them to do their jobs as safely as possible, but like any front line public safety agency, our officers deal with a degree of risk in their work," they said.
On top of the two October prison riots, in the past week the state's corruption watchdog, the Crime Corruption Commission charged seven central Queensland corrective service officers with a total of 12 serious criminal offences following an investigation.
Three custodial correctional officers were suspended from duty after being charged with criminal offences relating to use of force and misconduct in public office.
The QCS spokesperson said three other officers who were charged were already suspended.
A 7th man who was charged no longer is employed by QCS.
The Morning Bulletin understands these four officers will face charges including misconduct in public office, disclosing the existence of a confidential notice and common assault.
These officers will appear in Rockhampton Magistrates Court on November 25.
While the vast majority of officers perform their duties ethically and professionally, unethical behaviour had no place in Queensland Corrective Services, according to their spokesperson.
"Our disciplinary processes are robust and appropriate," they said.
"We cooperated with the Crime and Corruption Commission in this investigation, and we are thankful for their work in investigating and acting on allegations of behaviour which has no place in our workplace.
"Our officers play a vital role in ensuring the safety and security of the community by managing some of the most challenging people in society in highly dynamic situations. To do this effectively and humanely, it is important that their behaviour is appropriate and proportionate to the circumstances."
QCS said they were committed to building a corruption-resistant organisation, and expected the highest levels of professionalism and ethical behaviour from all of their officers.
"As a result of the findings of Taskforce Flaxton, we are boosting our capacity to educate and support our officers to do the right thing, and to investigate and respond to incidents where individuals fail to live up to our high ethical standards," they said.
"As the matter is before court, it is not appropriate to comment further at this time."