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News and media releases 2016

Response to report on thermal conditions

17 November 2015

The Commissioner for Corrective Services James McMahon has welcomed the report by the Office of the Inspector of Custodial Services (OICS) into thermal conditions of prison cells.

“I was encouraged Professor Morgan commended the Department on recent prison projects such as the West Kimberley Regional Prison and the new Roebourne Work Camp but I reject the claim the Department was dismissive of the issue of thermal conditions in our prisons,” the Commissioner said.

“Local management at each facility is aware of the cell conditions during the hottest and coldest months. Where appropriate, remedial action is taken to maintain or improve thermal comfort. Practical examples include the distribution of fans, cooled water, extra blankets and additional appropriate clothing.”

“The Department has adopted a mixed approach to maintain thermal comfort. The selective use of air conditioning is one of a number of solutions based on an understanding of risk, offender needs and the primary considerations of safety and security,” said Commissioner McMahon.

“What I am not going to do is guarantee that every prison cell is air-conditioned.”

What the Department is doing to address temperatures in prisons

The Commissioner acknowledged that more work needs to be done to ensure that thermal prison conditions are acceptable. The Department will:

  • Explore the development of an appropriate risk assessment tool that includes a tool to assess heat-related illness so that prisoners who are particularly sensitive to heat are identified;
  • Conduct research into the thermal comfort ranges used by other prison authorities and consider their applicability to WA;
  • Investigate the feasibility and cost of mechanisms to monitor and collective representative thermal data in prisons.

“With regard to Roebourne Regional Prison, the Department will continue to evaluate cost effective cooling options,” said Commissioner McMahon.

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