Bleijie says stopping prison violence is 'impossible'

THE legislation to protect the safety of staff at Queensland's correctional facilities will be strengthened following claims that prisoners are "out of control".

Corrective Services commissioner Marlene Morison said work to increase safety and security in prisons was under way, with four major changes already in the pipeline.

Ms Morison said changes to legislation would help alleviate staff concerns and prevent violent acts occurring.

"These are meaningful changes with great impact for staff in managing prisoner behaviour and keeping our prisons safe," Ms Morison said.

Some of the changes Ms Morison proposed include:

  • Allowing more comprehensive searches of prisoners to better detect internally hidden contraband
  • Making it compulsory that prisoners engage in work or other productive activities to assist their rehabilitation
  • Simplifying processes for dealing with prisoners who have breached discipline, including introducing financial penalties
  • Requiring prisoners to pay for replacing property that is lost or damaged as a result of carelessness.

"The safety of staff and the security and risk management of prisoners and offenders are core tasks of every person in the service and our people do this well," Ms Morison said.

"Corrective services legislation is strong and robust, and provides the necessary powers for staff to do their jobs and keep themselves and the community safe.

"However the legislation can be strengthened."

Prison staff rallied last month to protest against government changes to the prison system, including proposed privatisation of security.

They also protested against remarks by Attorney General Jarrod Bleijie that rapes did not occur in Queensland jails.

"I reject that rape happens in jail - we have protections," Mr Bleijie said in April.

Now Mr Bleijie has retracted his statement.

Statistics show there were 15 sexual assaults in the past 10 months.

"Stamping out all criminal activity, including sexual assaults, is virtually impossible both in the community and our prisons," Mr Bleijie said.

"When it occurs, it is investigated and the perpetrators are punished.

"Criminal activity is not and never will be tolerated in our prisons."

The Department of Corrective Services has also developed a Staff Assault Reduction Strategy to reduce the number of assaults in prisons.

A spokeswoman said the five components of the strategy - risk, preventions, response, engagement and governance - had already reduced violence on custodial workers.

"QCS officers safely and successfully manage around 6000 prisoners every day," the spokeswoman said.

"Officers are effective, capable and well-trained, ensuring assaults on officers are infrequent."