People who maintain close links with their family and friends during imprisonment are more likely to successfully re-integrate into the community upon their release.  Contact is made through personal visits, access to mail, telephones, email, and video communications.

The Department of Justice has an obligation to assist people in custody to maintain family ties and other social support systems.  This is guided by legislation and policy. This review will assess whether the Department of Justice is facilitating sufficient contact between family, friends and other external social support.

Review terms of reference

  1. Is the Department meeting the legislative and policy requirements to facilitate access to social visits and telephone calls?
  2. Does the Department understand and mitigate barriers to families and friends visiting people in custody?
  3. Does the Department adequately address the impact on maintaining external social contact when making placement and movement decisions?

A report on this review is anticipated to be available to the public early in 2019


On 11 March 2018 a woman in Bandyup Women’s Prison gave birth alone in her cell.  Custodial officers and medical staff were observing through the cell hatch.  The Department launched several reviews into this incident and have begun implementing actions to mitigate some concerns.  However many of these issues are long standing.  The impact of the years of neglect, indifference and structural inequality in the women’s estate is likely to have influenced this incident.  As such, we believe an independent review into this incident and the causal factors is needed.

Review terms of reference:

  1. Did the Department meet its duty of care obligations to the woman and her child?
  2. Have appropriate changes been identified or put in place to prevent this situation from occurring again?

A report on this review has been drafted but due to privacy concerns will not be released in full to the public.  Instead the Inspector intends to release a public statement about the findings. The public statement will be released in December 2018.

In 2017, there were almost 190,000 strip searches of prisoners in WA and  further 271 strip searches of visitors to prisons. Only 0.08 per cent of the prisoner searches yielded a positive result and one visitor search revealed contraband.

By their nature, strip searches are invasive and therefore Department policy reflects the need for these to be done with regard to decency and self-respect.  This is essential as many people in custody have experienced trauma which can be exacerbated by the practice.

Review terms of reference:

  1. Is strip-searching prisoners, visitors and staff effective at preventing contraband entering WA prisons?
  2. Does the Department mitigate the potential trauma caused through strip searching?
  3. Has the Department adequately explored alternative options to strip searching?

A report on this review is anticipated to be available to the public by the first quarter of 2019.

Page last updated: 10 Dec 2018

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