Chilling reality of prison understaffing
PRISONS are dangerously understaffed and are frequently sharing perimeter patrol teams which is compromising safety, officers say.
A patrol team at Wolston jail was sent to Brisbane Correctional Centre at the weekend to help cover staff numbers after officers were sent out for prisoner escorts to hospital.
Jail bosses have denied the situation was an "incident", and said perimeter patrol teams could share prisons without significant compromise to security at either centre.
But officers have described the situation as a crisis and said perimeter security was already reduced, with cutbacks to night-time dog patrols.
"They should have called police in, they haven't even logged it as an incident," an officer said.
Together Union industrial services director Michael Thomas said prisons were dangerously understaffed at night, mostly because of an increase in injured prisoners being escorted to hospitals.
This was because of increased prisoner numbers, with some jails at 150 per cent capacity, he said.
"We are regularly getting situations where jails haven't got the staffing component that was deemed to be required to run the jail safely in the event of incidents," Mr Thomas said.
"If that's getting to the point where they don't have staffing to monitor their own perimeter, that says it's a crisis."
A Queensland Corrective Services spokeswoman denied it was an issue and said there was no security breach and no requirement to call police.
"Prisons are highly dynamic environments, and an unexpectedly high number of medical emergencies on Saturday night meant that eight officers were required to escort prisoners to hospital to ensure public safety," the spokeswoman said.
The spokeswoman said perimeter patrols were just one layer of security.
"The close location of the prisons in the Wacol precinct means that we can share resources between centres as needed at short notice without significantly compromising security while responding to dynamic, unplanned demands such as a large number of medical escorts," she said.
Prison officers said jails were independent of each other and had never shared perimeter patrols in the past.