Preventing escapes

We’ve introduced a number of operational and security improvements to help minimise escapes and the rate of escapes from prison has been steadily declining.

Escapes are often driven by the need to see family members or resolve problems outside prison. People may also have problems accepting the sentence and the prison environment.

Types of escapes

Break out

A prisoner breaches the security of a prison, court complex or other place of custodial control and leaves. For example, forced exits from prison or escape from custodial staff, or escape while under the direct control of a corrections officer.

Non-return from temporary release

A prisoner does not return to prison at the appointed time following temporary release.

Other escapes

  • Walk-away escapes can happen when a low security prisoner breaches trust by walking away from their supervision.
  • Escapes while under escort can occur when prisoners are travelling to and from court.

What happens when a prisoner escapes

In the event of an escape, the police are notified immediately and prison management inform key people within the surrounding community. The risk for prison neighbours is generally very low as escapees aim to leave the area as quickly and as unobtrusively as possible.

Prison management investigates all escapes. When a prisoner is recaptured, staff will interview them to find out the reasons for their escape. We use this information to ensure security breaches, and any other factors, are addressed to prevent a repeat occurrence.

What we do to prevent escapes

Taking measures to prevent escapes is a priority for Corrections.

We establish and maintain a secure environment at prisons through a combination of management practices and physical security features and systems. These reflect the level of risk related to the prisoners’ security classifications.

Staff also work closely with prisoners to identify problems within the prison or outside (such as a relationship break-up) so that they can be dealt with – without resorting to escaping.

Regional prisons

Another initiative to minimise escapes is by keeping prisoners close to home. By accommodating as many people as possible closer to their home areas, they can see their families more often. This creates the most stable social environment possible, and makes it less likely they’ll feel the need to escape to sort out problems at home.

Tracking app

In December 2018, a new app for staff to track prisoners on outside-the-wire activity went live. The app provides prison staff with a list of names, times, locations, and the types of temporary release that prisoners are on. The system has simplified how we track prisoners on temporary release, and means that staff are able to take action to address potential issues and risks faster.

How many offenders have escaped?

Types of escapes by financial year

Financial YearBreakoutAbscondingFrom EscortBreach of temporary release

Source:  Annual Report 2018/19.

The most recent information on escape rates in prisons can be found in our latest Annual Report.

There have been no breakout escapes from our prisons in the last five years.

In 2018/19, there were no breakout escapes and four non-breakout escapes. These included two absconds and two escapes from escort, all of whom were returned to custody. In 2017/18, there were five non-breakout escapes.