Public protection orders

A public protection order is a court order that allows the detention of very high risk individuals at a secure facility within prison precincts.

These civil detention orders may be put in place for individuals who have served a finite prison sentence, but still pose a very high risk of imminent and serious sexual or violent offending and cannot be safely managed in the community.

Who will be subject to public protection orders?

Only a very small number of people are likely to be subject to public protection orders: individuals who have served a prison sentence for a serious sexual or violent offence AND continue to pose a very high risk of imminent and serious sexual or violent offending.

To be subject to a public protection order an offender must have ALL of these characteristics to a high level:

  • an intense drive or urge to enact the particular form of offending
  • very poor self-regulatory capacity, evidence by general impulsiveness, high emotional reactivity and inability to copy with or manage stress and difficulties
  • absence of understanding and concern for the impacts of their offending on actual or potential victims
  • poor interpersonal relationships and/or social isolation.

How public protection orders work

An order can be applied for by Corrections when offenders are:

  • within six months of being released at the end of a finite prison sentence, or
  • subject to the most intensive form of extended supervision order.

Offenders will undergo a comprehensive risk assessment and the High Court will decide whether or not the individual will be subject to a public protection order.

Individuals subject to a public protection order will be housed in a residence separate from the main prison, with its own secure perimeter fence. In keeping with the civil nature of the detention, staff working at the residence will not be Corrections Officers. Conditions within the residence will be monitored by independent inspectors and the Ombudsman.

Each resident will have a management plan that will set out any restrictions they are subject to, as well as any identified needs and goals that could contribute to their potential release.  Detention will be protective rather than punitive, and residents will have as many of the civil right of ordinary citizens as possible without endangering the community or themselves. Residents will not be able to leave the residence except under escort and supervision for medical care and other approved absences such as court appearances.

Public protection orders will be re-evaluated annually, and a person with an order can seek a court review of their detention at any time.  Detainees who no longer meet the test to be subject to a public protection order will be released and placed on a protective supervision order, where they will be managed in the community and subject to intensive monitoring.