Prisoners getting the ‘upper hand’
TENSIONS between security officers and management at the Maryborough Correctional Centre have reportedly reached boiling point.
For months the two parties have been at loggerheads over the number of guards needed to work at one time following a major security breach at the Education Block.
Guards threatened to strike two weeks ago after management refused to put on more security staff despite an accusation from a female tutor that she had been sexually assaulted by a prisoner.
But this week sources inside the prison have revealed that the problems between the guards and department heads run much deeper.
They say a recent change in management has sparked a significant change in the way officers are allowed to interact with prisoners, causing what they describe as the “balance of power” to shift.
“They are getting the upper hand,” one source said.
Another said the number of assaults had increased and that officers felt “threatened” because prisoners were becoming “increasingly arrogant”.
Both sources said officers felt drugs were finding their way into the prison on a “much more” regular basis in the name of political correctness.
“They are not allowed to search them (prisoners and visitors) like they used to anymore,” the source said
But while Queensland Corrective Services does not deny there is tension, they are adamant the centre has only changed for the better.
Yesterday a QCS spokesperson said the number of assaults had not increased and that statistics showed they had in fact gone down.
The spokesperson said the power guards had to conduct searches had not changed but admitted they were restricted to scanner searches and general searches like the use of drug-detection dogs when it came to visitors.
The spokesperson said positive results from random drug testing had decreased by 85 per cent from 2006/07 to 2009/10 and that officers had not made their feelings known about the current mood between staff and inmates.
“Management has not received any complaints from officers who feel that prisoners are getting the ‘upper hand'.
“Queensland Corrective Services does not tolerate acts of violence against our prison officers.
“Prisoners who assault an officer face the full force of the law and in many cases this means more jail time.”