Monday February 27, 2007 10:00am WST
For Immediate Release
"Several of the WA Inspector of Custodial Services, Professor Richard Harding's Recommendations dating back all the way to his 2001 Inspection Report into Prison Transport services, and others in his 2007 Report and letter to the Minister are now virtually screaming to be fully implemented, and nothing of his recommendations should be ignored or deliberately avoided by the Minister," WA Human Rights group Project SafeCom said this morning, following the tabling by Minister Margaret Quirk in State Parliament of the Departmental review into the Aboriginal Death in Custody of the Aboriginal Elder from Warburton.
"Regrettably, the current review ignores repeated criticisms and clear recommendations made since 2001 by Professor Richard Harding. It's absolutely laughable that one of the 18 recommendations of yesterday's review includes "roadworthiness checks" and of transport vehicles - as if this is anything that should not have been done at all times with every single vehicle in use for departmental purposes, and this recommendation is a slap in the face of all stakeholders, especially the family of the Warburton man," spokesman Jack H Smit said, "and so is the promise to give "breaks every two hours" during long journeys - these are not new issues at all: they have been raised in a comprehensive review of prison transport services by Professor Harding as far back as 2001."
"As recently as last month, Professor Harding commented that transport over long and harsh distances in WA should not be carried out by vans, totally unsuitable for the searing WA climate, but should be done by coach or by aircraft, while the WA Police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan spoke scathingly about long distance transport and the contracting out of long-distance transport to Global Solutions Limited."
"The Minister sounds encouraging, but there is no need to wait for additional reports in implementing immediately, and without delay, several aspects of the transport arrangements, already part of the repeated recommendations of Richard Harding since 2001. There is no need to wait with halting, immediately and without delay, the use of totally unsuitable vans - as already stated by Richard Harding - for long distances, and immediately start using aircraft and coaches instead of the current white "Death Boxes and Dutch Ovens" for long-distance transport in a murderous desert climate."
"The fact that there are recommendations, first put to the Minister in 2001 by the legally appointed State Government Prisons Watchdog, but still seemingly ignored after seven years, makes one wonder whether Richard Harding has been imprisoned by departmental chiefs in collusion with the Minister, in an ivory tower not of his own choosing," Mr Smit said.
"In addition, the Minister has already ample evidence of the questionable duty of care of Global Solutions Limited. The Minister has in her possession several reports about GSL. All these reports place serious questions about the company's quality of care and it's ethical accountability standard. GSL should lose the contract, and the contract should revert back to the WA Department of Prisons. This would also satisfy the Police Commissioner," Mr Smit concluded.
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]