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Prison officers march on Cabinet in protest over working conditions

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About 70 Department of Corrections staff complaining of continued Government inaction over security, health and safety issues marched on Cabinet this morning to present a statement of grievances to Premier Paula Cox and Justice Minister Kim Wilson.

Accepting the document, Senator Wilson pledged that a review of the prison services, promised in August, would be completed by the end of May.

Saying the group's complaints date back to a 2001 Board of Enquiry, Prison Officers Association chairman Craig Clarke vowed that "if Government doesn't move, we will move".

Asked what the main issue was, Mr Clarke said: "The infrastructure isn't good, we're working in an environment that is not sterile, and the perimeters are being breached on a daily basis."

Weapons are being smuggled into Westgate, he said, and officers are under daily threat.

"We have people walking right up to our perimeters and we have weapons getting into prison," he said. "With the type of inmates we have now, we can't work in this climate."

Mr Clarke said the Corrections Commissioner was "a good man", but added: "Does he understand the corrections regimes? I don't know that."

In a brief statement as supporters stood by, he accused Government of "lacking the will to fix the problem".

"They pump millions into the front end, but the back end is unseen. Who cares what happens in prison?"

Sen Wilson said many of the group's concerns had already been recognised by Government and could be dealt with.

She added: "Others are more long term, and would have to be budgeted for in the upcoming year."

Craig Clarke, President of the Prison Officers Association, and Premier Paula Cox, address prison officers as they gather outside Cabinet this morning.
Prison officers gather to march on Cabinet.
Prison officers protest outside Cabinet this morning.

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Published March 27, 2012 at 10:00 am (Updated March 27, 2012 at 10:29 am)

Prison officers march on Cabinet in protest over working conditions

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