ACT Inspector of Correctional Services: Healthy Prison Review of the Alexander Maconochie Centre 2019

In 2019, the Inspector undertook his first Healthy Prison Review (HPR) of the AMC pursuant to section 18(1)(a) of the Inspector of Correctional Services Act 2017. The HPR examined whether the AMC meets the 'healthy prison' test, which was devised by the World Health Organization and contains four pillars: safety, respect and dignity, purposeful activity, and rehabilitation and preparation for release.

The Report of a Review of a Correctional Centre by the ACT Inspector of Correctional Services: Healthy Prison Review of the Alexander Maconochie Centre 2018, was tabled in the ACT Legislative Assembly on 26 November 2019.

The HPR contains 51 findings and 73 recommendations. The ACT Government response was tabled in the ACT Legislative Assembly on 21 May 2020. The Government agreed to 61 recommendations; agreed in principle to six recommendations; noted four recommendations; and did not agree to two recommendations.

ACTCS provided three progress reports to the Inspector on the implementation of HPR recommendations during the 2020-21 reporting period.

Below is the Government’s response to the Report: ACT Inspector of Correctional Services: Healthy Prison Review 2019

Table 47 - Government Response: ACT Inspector of Correctional Services: Healthy Prison Review 2019

Recommendation No. and Summary

Action

Status

Recommendation 1

That ACT Corrective Services (ACTCS) implement a system or systems for the central recording of data on strip searching, use of force, separate confinement and segregation orders, time out of cells and incidents in a manner that facilitates inspection by oversight bodies and provides capacity for data interrogation and report generation.

Agreed

The following data recording systems and tools were implemented in 2020-21:

Strip searching CIS
Use of Force Register 
Separate confinement/ segregation Excel spreadsheet
Time out of cells are recorded in the Lockdown Register
Incidents are recorded in the Incident Register

Complete

Recommendation 4

That the induction process for women be given urgent attention to maximising time out of cells, provision of peer support and provision of up-to-date information about their obligations, rights and AMC routines.

Agreed

The review has been conducted and various improvements have been implemented, including the increase of peer support for female detainees through the Peer Mentoring Program and the establishment of a detainee employment position for Induction Support for female detainees.

Complete

Recommendation 6

That ACTCS finalise and implement the Incentives and Earned Privileges (IEP) Policy as a matter of urgency and include a review and evaluation mechanism of the effectiveness and impact of the new policy after 12 months.

Agreed

The Incentives and Earned Privileges (IEP) Policy is currently being refined prior to undergoing consultation with relevant stakeholders, staff, detainees and CPSU and will be finalised and implemented after this process. The IEP Policy will be reviewed after 12 months of operation.

In progress

Recommendation 7

That ACTCS finalise and implement the detainee Disciplinary Policy as a matter of urgency and include a review and evaluation mechanism of the effectiveness and impact of the new policy after 12 months.

Agreed

The Discipline Policy is currently being refined based on recent court judgements prior to undergoing consultation with relevant stakeholders, ACTCS staff, and delegates, and will be finalised and implemented after this process. The Discipline Policy will be reviewed after 12 months of operation. 

In progress

Recommendation 8

That ACTCS address the significant problems with the detainee disciplinary process including arbitrary and inconsistent application, and low awareness of right to review as a matter of urgency. Discipline Policy to be notified and implemented by 30 June 2020.

Agreed

The Discipline Policy is currently being refined based on recent court judgements prior to undergoing consultation with relevant stakeholders, ACTCS staff, and delegates, and will be finalised and implemented after this process. The Discipline Policy will be reviewed after 12 months of operation. 

In progress

Recommendation 9

That ACTCS develop and implement a policy for the management and protection of human information sources. Human Information Sources Policy to be finalised by 30 April 2020.

Agreed

A policy for the Management of Human Information Sources is undergoing redevelopment prior to consultation and will be finalised and implemented after this process.

In progress

Recommendation 10

That ACTCS conduct a risk review to identify which internal fences and gates need to be designated as security barriers, and once identified, fences that do not meet the minimum-security standards described in this report must be replaced as a matter of urgency and unnecessary gates removed.

Agreed

This was not funded. ACTCS are however progressing a review with a slightly reduced scope, which will consider the suitability of existing fences and gates against published standards and interstate best practice guidelines. Outcomes will be used as guidance for future business cases and work.

Complete

Recommendation 12

That ACTCS take immediate action to develop and implement a random cell and communal area search program for the Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC).

Agreed

The Searching Policy is currently undergoing redevelopment prior to consultation and will be finalised and implemented after this process.

In progress

Recommendation 13

That ACTCS review cell searching training and undertake refresher training for custodial staff who may be required to search cells and other areas at the AMC.

Agreed

The review of the cell searching, and evidence management training package was completed in early 2021 and is now being delivered as part of the annual training schedule.

Complete

Recommendation 16

That ACTCS develop inventories to accurately record and account for all armoury equipment and supplies across the AMC.

Agreed

The Corrections Management (Tactical Personal Protective Equipment) Operating Procedure 2020 was registered as a notifiable instrument on 29 October 2020. The Controlled Items Policy was notified in August 2019, along with the Controlled Items - Access to Armoury Operating Procedure, the Controlled Items - Auditing Operating Procedure, and the Controlled Items - Disposal Operating Procedure. These set out the recording and auditing of armoury equipment and supplies across the AMC.

Complete

Recommendation 17

That ACTCS develop and implement clear instructions for staff regarding the recording, control and disposal of contraband and provide necessary training to relevant staff.

Agreed

The searching and evidence management training package was reviewed in conjunction with the review of the cell searching and evidence management training package and is now being delivered as part of the annual training schedule.

Complete

Recommendation 18

That ACTCS review the current state of portable drug detection technology and its possible application at the AMC.

Agreed

A review of available portable drug detection technology has been undertaken and viable options were identified for use within the AMC.

Complete

Recommendation 20

That ACTCS source conflict resolution and de-escalation training for staff to better equip them to deal with verbally aggressive detainees.

Agreed

Conflict resolution training has been sourced and is being delivered as part of the annual training schedule.

Complete

Recommendation 21

That ACTCS develop a set of qualitative and quantitative Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for the AMC that reflect the unique nature of the AMC as a prison with diverse operational challenges and complexities.

Agreed

A set of qualitative and quantitative Key Performance Indicators have been introduced and reporting under these has commenced.

Complete

Recommendation 22

That ACTCS develop an asset management plan for the AMC to ensure that there is timely and budgeted replacement or refurbishment of major plant and equipment at the AMC.

Agreed

The Strategic Asset Management Plan is in draft. Future work to support replacement and refurbishment programs is subject to funding.

In progress

 

Recommendation 23

That ACTCS develop a facility maintenance plan for the AMC to ensure that there is timely and budgeted attention given to maintaining the AMC’s physical infrastructure.

Agreed in principle

A preventative maintenance and asset refresh program has been developed and progressed subject to funding.

In progress

 

Recommendation 24

That, as a matter of urgency, ACTCS undertake a comprehensive electrical safety “test and tag” program at the AMC in accordance with ACT law.

Agreed

Testing and tagging was completed on 30 October 2020. On 20 January 2021, Worksafe ACT conducted an unscheduled visit to the AMC and were satisfied that all testing and tagging was up to date. A Directorate-wide Electrical Safety Procedure is in development which will be adopted by ACTCS.  

Complete

Recommendation 26

That the ACT government commission an independent review of the ACTCS Corrections Officer custodial recruit training course, including a comparative analysis of similar courses in other jurisdictions, and the adequacy of on-going and refresher training provided to all AMC and Court Transport Unit staff.

Agreed

Due to an unsuccessful funding submission, this review was progressed as an internal review. The review has been completed and a report is currently being finalised.

Complete

Recommendation 27

That ACTCS publicly commit to an updated timeframe for bringing policies and procedures to a standard the community should expect for a custodial environment.

Agreed

A new policy development and review process is being implemented. Policy scheduling is being developed in alignment with these new processes and priorities.

In progress

 

 

Recommendation 28

That ACTCS consult with the oversight entities when developing and updating policies and procedures.

Agreed

ACTCS has an established process to consult with the Human Rights Commission on policies as appropriate. A new policy development and review process is being implemented and includes a consistent review opportunity for oversight bodies, staff and CPSU.

In progress

Recommendation 30

That ACTCS review all restricted policies and procedures with the aim of making as many as possible fully unrestricted or unrestricted with necessary redactions of material that would be likely to disclose information that may endanger public safety or undermine justice, security or good order at a correctional centre.

Agreed

The ACTCS policy review process includes consideration of restricted content. Only content assessed as presenting a significant risk is restricted. Policies continue to be reviewed and updated in line with current scheduling and priorities.

Complete

Recommendation 34

That ACTCS take active steps through the provision of in-kind or financial support, to recognise the value that community organisations can bring to the correctional environment by providing certain programs, services and activities.

Agreed

The ACTCS recognises the value of community organisations in the provision of services to detainees. The Senior Director Detainee Services regularly reviews the services and programs required and engages the necessary community organisations to deliver those needs.

Complete

Recommendation 35

That the eligibility criteria, expected timeframes and other relevant information about the Transitional Release Program be made public and clearly communicated to detainees, and ACTCS make a concerted effort to encourage female detainees to apply and support their full participation if eligible.

Agreed

The Transitional Release Program (TRP) Policy was notified on 1 December 2020.

Complete

Recommendation 36

That ACTCS seek an independent assessment on the staffing profile and capacity required for the Women’s Care Team to meet the objective of a gender responsive correctional environment, with sufficient meaningful activity, and develop a plan to reach the minimum acceptable level within 1 year.

Agreed in principle

JACS launched Walking with women on the pathway to change in June 2021. This document provides a framework for ACTCS to work with female offenders and detainees to reduce reoffending and meet their needs. ACTCS has also appointed a Women's and Children's Coordinator.  The operating model will be incorporated into the Integrated Offender Management model, due for implementation in December 2021.

In progress

Recommendation 37

That ACTCS engage an independent Indigenous expert to review the security rating system to ensure that it is free of any “cultural bias” that could result in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander detainees being over-classified.

Agreed

Processes are underway to identify an appropriate subject matter expert.

In progress

Recommendation 40

That ACTCS be mindful of the spiritual significance of art for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander detainees before taking decisions that could affect detainees’ access to their artworks and art materials.

Agreed

The Detainee Property policy is undergoing revision prior to consultation and will be finalised and implemented after this process.

In progress

Recommendation 41

That ACTCS explore ways for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander detainees with extended family members at the AMC to be provided with opportunities to get together for social interactions on a regular basis.

Agreed

Various opportunities for increased social interaction were identified and two programs have been introduced: the ‘Elders Family Engagement Program’ (a quarterly, 2 hour session for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander detainees with extended family at the AMC, facilitated by Indigenous Services Unit staff and a community elder) and the ‘Elders Family & Culture Program’ (a quarterly, 2 hour session, held during school holidays, aimed at Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females who have children in the community).

Complete

Recommendation 42

That ACTCS consider employing Indigenous peer support workers, who can as part of their role meet and assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders on their admission to the AMC.

Agreed

The manuals for Peer Support and Mentoring Programs have been revised to make them more accessible to all levels of literacy and cultural background. An Indigenous Support worker is in place to help identify culturally appropriate services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander detainees.

Complete

Recommendation 44

That ACTCS’ proposed Disability Framework is informed by consultation with key stakeholders and completed in a timely manner to ensure ACTCS can meet or exceed the goals and time frames contained in the ACT Disability Justice Strategy First Action Plan 20192023.

Agreed

Preliminary research and analysis for the Disability Offender Framework has commenced.

In progress

Recommendation 45

That ACTCS develop a policy approach that articulates and responds to the needs of older detainees.

Agreed

Early research and drafting for this policy has commenced. New initiatives in relation to supporting individuals with complex needs and disability screening has prompted additional consultation to inform this work.

In progress

Recommendation 46

That the ACT government considers funding an expanded multi-faith Chaplaincy Team in light of the increase in detainee population and noting the broad scope of their work.

Agreed

A review of current religious coverage has been undertaken and ACTCS is exploring next steps.

In progress

Recommendation 48

That ACTCS facilitate means for detainees to contact accredited faith leaders directly (e.g. by email or telephone), without that contact dependent on ACTCS staff.

Agreed

A review was conducted, with various improvements identified and implemented, noting faith leaders did not consent to their contact details being shared.   

Complete

Recommendation 50

That on completion of the Hume Health Centre (HHC) renovations, ACTCS and Justice Health jointly agree on and monitor Key Performance Indicators in relation to access and flow of detainees in the HHC.

Agreed

Mental Health, Justice Health and Alcohol and Drug Services has developed Key Performance Indicators, which have been shared with ACTCS. 

Complete

Recommendation 56

That Winnunga, Justice Health and ACTCS as a priority, jointly identify any blockers to more effective cooperation and service delivery and strategies to overcome them.

Agreed

An Operational Working Group has been established. Where the operational working group cannot address an issue, it is referred directly to the governance group (consisting of the Commissioner ACT Corrective Services, the Executive Director Mental Health, Justice Health and Alcohol and Drug Services and the CEO Winnunga) for resolution.

Complete

Recommendation 57

That ACTCS take immediate steps to obtain an independent appraisal by an appropriately experienced expert to ascertain the appropriate Full Time Equivalent of general practice psychologists for the AMC and develop a plan to reach the minimum acceptable staffing level within 1 year.

Agreed in principle

As part of the implementation of the Forensic Mental Health (FMH) Model of Care, FMH are developing a workforce profile and this includes a workforce profile for Custodial Health.

In progress

Recommendation 59

That ACTCS make changes to the existing CCTV setup in the AMC Crisis Support Unit to provide for protection of detainees’ privacy when using toilets, while still ensuring appropriate observation for safety purposes.

Agreed

That ACTCS make changes to the existing CCTV setup in the AMC Crisis Support Unit to provide for protection of detainees’ privacy when using toilets, while still ensuring appropriate observation for safety purposes.

Complete

Recommendation 60

That ACTCS and Justice Health examine the feasibility of making Naloxone available for administration after-hours in case of a drug overdose (including a trial of nasal Naloxone if feasible), supported by appropriate training in administration of the drug.

Agreed

ACTCS and Justice Health Services continue to explore the feasibility of making Naloxone available for administration after-hours.

In progress

Recommendation 61

That ACTCS and Justice Health examine the feasibility of making Naloxone available to all detainees with a recent history of opioid use as part of a release pack.

Agreed

ACTCS and Justice Health Services continue to explore the feasibility of making Naloxone available for this cohort.

In progress

Recommendation 63

That ACTCS commission an independent education and training needs survey of detainees and draw on the results of that survey to better inform the structure, content and resourcing of the education and training program at the AMC, including ensuring it meets the needs of female detainees. The review should also engage with the ACT business community to identify education and training pathways relevant to employment in Canberra.

Agreed in principle

An independent education review including a detainee survey has been completed and a new statement of requirements developed.  ACTCS has arrangements with a number of organisations to support return to work for suitable detainees.

In progress

Recommendation 64

That ACTCS engage both female and male recreation officers.

Agreed in principle

A male programs manager commenced in September 2019, and a male fitness instructor joined shortly after. On 12 January 2021, a female fitness instructor also commenced and will be the dedicated women’s activities instructor. 

Complete

Recommendation 65

That ACTCS explore the feasibility and costs of providing a modest multi-purpose industries building at the AMC and look for opportunities for female detainees to engage in work within their unit.

Agreed

This recommendation is being progressed to business case as part of the wider bid addressing the women’s area.

Complete

Recommendation 66

That ACTCS review the efficacy of the sentence management system after six months of its implementation, including seeking feedback from key stakeholders. This review should reference performance data such as matters raised by detainees, number of meetings held with detainees, wait times to see a Sentence Manager, etc.

Agreed

A review of sentence management has been completed. ACTCS' model for Integrated Offender Management is expected to be completed by December 2021 and implemented in 2022. The first tranche of the project will focus on the women cohort and will incorporate the Women's Offender Framework Operating Model.

In progress

Recommendation 67

That ACTCS review the current telephone call service provider arrangement with a view to obtaining a better cost-per-call rate for detainees.

Agreed

Telephone service provider arrangements have been reviewed and procurement processes for a Digital Telephone system (DTS) replacement project have commenced. The DTS project will consider better call rates.

In progress

Recommendation 71

That regular Gatehouse staff be provided with professional customer relations training.

Agreed

A Customer Experience Specialist was recruited in November 2020.

Complete

Recommendation 72

That ACTCS review the Community Corrections Parole Unit – Policy and Procedures and promulgate it as an un-redacted Notifiable Instrument.

Agreed

The Parole Policy is being reviewed.

In progress

Recommendation 73

That ACTCS put in place quality control mechanisms to ensure that Pre-Release Reports are provided, and explained to, parole applicants not later than one week prior to their scheduled hearing before the ACT Sentence Administration Board.

Agreed

The Parole Policy is being reviewed. The process to ensure detainees are provided with their Pre-Release Reports in advance of their hearings has been updated.

In progress