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Australia: Queensland prison guards giving inmates drugs and weapons, damning report finds

Watchdog says systems meant to detect and deal with corruption are not working.
A damning new report shows corruption is alive and well in Queensland’s prison system, with guards hooking up with inmates and supplying them with booze, drugs and even weapons.

The Crime and Corruption Commission has also raised serious concerns about the lack of oversight in two privately-operated, high-security prisons.

The watchdog’s 10-month investigation found that systems designed to prevent, detect and deal with corruption in jails were not working.

The watchdog said jails were overcrowded and that meant authorities could not properly keep tabs on what was going on inside prison walls.

An anonymous survey of prison staff and inmates found guards routinely engaged in personal relationships with inmates.

“Over one-fifth of correctional staff and prisoners indicated that they had seen a staff member have an inappropriate relationship with a prisoner,” the watchdog said.

It also said there was dramatic under-reporting of corrupt behaviour.

It said there were 223 corruption allegations made against prison staff between October 2017 and March 2018.

But if corrupt activity was properly reported it could be three times that.

“This level of under-reporting not only undermines safety and security but also makes it very difficult to accurately assess the extent of corruption in prisons, or determine which anti-corruption mechanisms are working well,” the report said.

The watchdog found instances of staff supplying drugs or weapons to staff, and colluding to avoid searches.

It also found evidence that some staff had coaxed prisoners to bash fellow inmates.

Th CCC chairman, Alan MacSporran, said systems meant to prevent, detect and deal with corruption were not working.

Recommendations include better training for recruits in the prison system, greater use of body-worn cameras, and more security cameras to cover black spots in jails.

The report also raised serious concerns about the privately run Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre and Southern Queensland Correctional Centre.

It said the prisons, run by multinational corporations, had “their own tone at the top”.

And it raised concerns about the ability of Queensland Corrective Services to effectively monitor private contracts.

The current approach, which involves QCS officers doing fortnightly and quarterly performance reviews, “appears inadequate to monitor such a high-risk environment where incentivised contracts can create pressure to misrepresent performance reporting”.

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