“Critical incidents” drive Albany prison security upgrades

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Commissioner Tony Hassall and Albany Regional Prison Superintendent Charlie Tuck at the Incident Control Facility.
Camera IconCommissioner Tony Hassall and Albany Regional Prison Superintendent Charlie Tuck at the Incident Control Facility. Credit: Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser

Security has been upgraded at Albany Regional Prison in response to “a number of critical incidents” at WA’s only maximum-security facility outside Perth.

A new incident command facility was opened on Friday as dozens of prison officers, firefighters, paramedics and police were put through their paces responding to staged emergencies.

The upgrades and training drills came days after the latest real-life emergency at the prison on Tuesday — an incident which is now under police investigation.

A Department of Justice spokeswoman confirmed three prisoners caused damage to a wing of unit one about 5.40pm on Tuesday.

“This damage included lighting a fire in a cell, which was quickly contained by corrections officers, with support from the Department of Fire and Emergency Services,” the spokeswoman said.

Albany Regional Prison security unit during the exercise.
Camera IconAlbany Regional Prison security unit during the exercise. Credit: Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser

It is understood prisoners who had been transferred from Roebourne Regional Prison set fire to a mattress inside a cell. No one was injured.

In March last year, five prison guards were allegedly assaulted after inmates ran riot, lighting fires and causing close to $15,000 damage.

Speaking at the prison on Friday, Albany Regional Prison superintendent Charlie Tuck said the upgrades would allow officers inside the command facility to watch incidents unfold live.

“Last year, we had a number of critical incidents that had occurred and we want to take every effort to minimise risk inside the jail,” Mr Tuck said.

“The overarching thing has always been to improve the safety of staff and safety of prisoners — and that is what we’re trying to do with this new facility.”

WA Prison Officers’ Union secretary Andy Smith was at Albany Regional Prison yesterday to address new officers and speak about WAPOU’s mental health program.

Albany Regional Prison security unit.
Camera IconAlbany Regional Prison security unit. Credit: Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser

He said there was a bus load of prisoners expected to arrive at the prison yesterday, which would take the facility close to its maximum capacity.

Mr Smith said he was aware of Tuesday’s incident and confident in the capabilities of staff in Albany and the support they received.

“I believe the fire brigade attended and it was lucky it was contained because of the staff’s quick action,” Mr Smith said.

“If they hadn’t reacted so quickly, it could have been horrendous.

“At maximum-security prisons you’re dealing with people you want to keep out of the public and they do these things from time to time.

“It’s a credit to the staff in Albany that they’re able to deal with these things so quickly.”

Mr Smith welcomed the investment in the Albany incident command facility but said WA’s prison system continued to be pushed to its limits.

“Everything is overcrowded and there’s a prediction we’ll hit a Statewide all-time record muster of around 7000 in April,” he said.

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