Female guards at Acacia Prison referred to the Corruption and Crime Commission over misconduct
SIX female prison officers, who have quit or were sacked from their jobs at Acacia Prison, have been referred to the Corruption and Crime Commission in the latest case of misconduct to engulf WA’s fractured jail system.
All of the former officers from the privately run Serco prison in Wooroloo are under investigation for having “inappropriate relationships with prisoners” after “grooming” by inmates.
Five have quit since allegations were put to them. The sixth officer was dismissed.
Corrective Services Minister Fran Logan told Parliament yesterday that the officers had left the prison between 2015 and this year, and he had requested an urgent meeting with Serco.
“I have requested the department to refer all matters relating to the six officers to the CCC for further examination and investigation,” Mr Logan said.
“This is not the first time I have raised concerns with Acacia management about grooming issues.”
Mr Logan said that earlier this year he raised cases of grooming and drugs at the prison and Serco had confirmed two recent cases of female officers resigning. Serco had reported its concerns to the CCC after receiving evidence gathered by its intelligence officers at Acacia.
Since late last year, Corrective Services has been hit with scandals highlighted by CCC investigations that showed officers were smuggling drugs into prisons and allowing inmates on community projects to meet associates.
At Parliament’s joint standing committee on the CCC hearing on Wednesday, Corrective Services Commissioner Tony Hassall said resignations were an obstacle in dealing with officers.
“What we can’t do is stop them from resigning when we find out,” he said. “What we can do is make sure they are not re-employed.”
Pushed by the committee’s chairwoman, Labor MP Margaret Quirk, Mr Hassall said another loophole was the issue of consent under current laws.
He agreed that the prosecution of officers would be made easier if consent was not considered when it was a relationship between a prisoner and a guard.
“It’s totally unacceptable that staff have inappropriate relationships with prisoners,” Mr Hassall said.