Shadow Minister for Corrections Elizabeth Kikkert has called out the ACT Government for continuing to approve the use of Toyota Camrys for detainee transport even after one of these vehicles was involved in the brazen escape of a detainee last Friday.
Mrs Kikkert said it is astounding that even after it was clear our Corrections Officers (COs) are sitting ducks in Camrys, other Camrys in the prison’s fleet were still being approved for transport duties that same day.
“The Minister is putting our COs at further risk in what is already a dangerous job,” Mrs Kikkert said.
“The Inspector of Correctional Services told the ACT Government seven months ago that Camrys are not suitable for prison transport. Anyone who has seen the dashcam footage of last week’s escape can see why.
“It seems that the Minister for Corrections is continuing this Labor-Greens Government’s strong tradition of ignoring the inspector’s recommendations, neglecting the safety of our COs and not doing enough to improve the safety of the community.
“If he really cared about our COs, he would have rectified this situation when he received the inspector’s report in 2020.
“The Minister has had numerous opportunities since then to fix this, including when union delegates raised this issue just last month.”
Dashcam footage shows the Camry being treated like a ragdoll on the streets of Griffith by a much bigger vehicle. Later there was also footage released showing the brave actions of COs attempting to prevent the detainee escaping.
“The minister has much to answer for. Why were these COs not armed with tasers or capsicum spray? Why, when the inspector declared them unsuitable, did the minister continue to use this vehicle?” Mrs Kikkert said.
"COs have expressed for some time, dissatisfaction with the governments hiring of senior management.
"As a consequence of the lack of attention to CO concerns by the Minister, we have detainees who are able to escape easier due to unarmed officers and the use of unsuitable vehicles.
“The minister needs to take their concerns seriously, especially in light of the recent no-confidence motion moved by corrections officers.
"I commend the officers for their bravery during this time and call on the minister to provide any assistance he can to ensure the physical and mental wellbeing of the officers involved, including offering counselling to the officers at their homes or workplace or wherever is best for them," Mrs Kikkert concluded