Statement from Neil Beales, Chief Custodial Officer.

Immediately following the prisoner riot at Spring Hill Corrections Facility on 1 June 2013, Corrections completed an investigation into the event led by the Chief Custodial Officer.

The investigation found that the primary cause of the riot was the actions of a group of violent prisoners with gang associations who had become intoxicated on “homebrew” and had been fighting earlier in the day.

It also found that the Department’s response to the incident was considered to have been extremely well managed. Staff members demonstrated courage and bravery under very difficult conditions.

A summary of this report was released in May 2014 and published on Corrections website.

Following a recommendation from the Ombudsman, the decision was made to release a redacted version of the full report into the incident.

After the incident the Department replaced the management team at SHCF and a new Prison Director was appointed to ensure strong, visible leadership.

The prisoners involved in the rioting were all held to account. Twenty-two offenders faced a total of approximately 40 charges including rioting, riotous behaviour, common assault, assault with a weapon, injuring with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and arson.

The majority of the prisoners charged received sentences of further imprisonment ranging between seven months to five years eight months.

Sixteen recommendations were made in the report which have now all been addressed. Actions taken as a result of these recommendations include:

  • ensuring all hand sanitisers at all prisons are non-alcohol based,
  • restricting the amount of fruit and sugar available for prisoners to purchase and keep in their cells,
  • reviewing and enhancing the security classification system,
  • an immediate review of processes involving limited regimes or rolling unlocks. No units are operate a regime where prisoners are locked up for over 24 hours at a time,
  • high security prisoners were no longer eligible for transfer to Spring Hill Corrections Facility or Northland Region Corrections Facility immediately after the riot, but since then significant enhancements have been made to these sites and they have now been assessed as suitable to hold high security prisoners,
  • a review of Advanced Control and Restraint (ACR) capability and response,
  • Prison Directors have local relationships with emergency services, including site visits as required,
  • locks are checked as part of regular ongoing maintenance with our facilities management contractor Spotless and,
  • all staff are regularly reminded about the processes around incident reporting and the importance of timely reporting. Additionally, a Fire Response Unit, currently made up of eight corrections officers, has also been established at the prison to quickly respond to any incidents when necessary. We are committed to an environment of continuous improvement and always take the opportunity to learn from any incidents and make enhancements where necessary.

Watch Neil Beales, Chief Custodial Officer talk about the release of this report.