Women prisons in dire need of enhanced security in Australia

A special commission of inquiry has heard that the New South Wales women’s prisons where guard Wayne Gregory Astill sexually raped detainees still lacks hundreds of security cameras required to adequately monitor the institution. These cameras are necessary to ensure that the facility is being properly monitored.

Astill was sentenced to the maximum of 23 years in prison in the beginning of this year for abusing his position and assaulting women at the Dillwynia correctional center, which is located on the outskirts of Sydney. His crimes occurred over the course of several years.

Before being found guilty of 27 crimes, including aggravated sexual and indecent assault, he worked at the center as an officer and later as the head correctional officer. In the most recent year, this occurred.

A special commission of inquiry has been established to investigate what, if anything, staff members of Corrective Services NSW (CSNSW) and administration of the institution knew about his criminal activity.

Fergal Molloy, in his capacity as manager of technical security at CSNSW, testified before the commission that there were approximately a thousand cameras spread out across the Dillwynia center; however, the vast majority of them were located in a recently constructed area of the facility.

Molloy stated that the older section of the jail, where Astill worked and committed offenses, only had 195 cameras, which was a substantial shortfall in comparison to what was required, which would have been “around 400 to 500” cameras.

He stated that he had submitted a request for additional cash to purchase cameras.

He remarked, “I have asked for significant funding, to the figure of nearly $500,000, to upgrade the CCTV functionality in that particular center.” “I have asked for substantial funding to upgrade CCTV functionality in that particular center.”

“However, we have received a large number of requests for upgrades across the state.”

Molloy said that there should have been surveillance cameras installed and operational inside the workplaces of the prison personnel, including Astill’s office, in response to a question about why this was not the case.

He stated that there should be cameras installed everywhere there are detainees.

He stated that the use of CCTV cameras in correctional facilities was “our best management tool” due to the role that these cameras play in providing a knowledge of what is going on within a facility.

Molloy stated during the investigation that there were “shortfalls” in security across the state, notably with regard to CCTV, but that there had been advances in recent years.

He remarked, “They are becoming adequate as a result of the continuous process of upgrading that we are engaged in.” “There are gaps in our electronic security,” the speaker said.

When asked if the funds that was now available would be enough to accomplish the necessary upgrades across the state in the prisons, Molloy responded “not at the present time, no.”

Anoulack Chanthivong, the prisons minister for the state, made the announcement in July and said he was “shocked and absolutely appalled” after the conviction of Astill. He also ordered the review to be performed by Peter McClellan, a retired judge. McClellan has been given the responsibility of leading the investigation.

“The response to date hasn’t been adequate, and I’m deeply troubled,” Chanthivong said. “The situation is very concerning.”

The assistant commissioner of the CSNSW, John Buckley, testified before the inquiry that it would have been difficult for convicts to denounce Astill since it was known that he was in “good stead” with prison management. This testimony was given the week before last.

He stated that it would be a “courageous decision to go to a manager at that time” for subordinate officers to make.

“The power imbalance was there and a situation which was aghast, but certainly very difficult for the inmate,” Buckley told the inquiry when it was being conducted in prisons.

A final report is expected to be submitted in December.

The investigation is still ongoing.

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