State takes aim at jail contracts

THE future of the WA Government’s $11.75 million contract with private court security company Australian Integration and Management Services Corporation could rest with the results of an inquiry into a prison escape due to be released next week.

The Attorney General and Minister for Justice Jim McGinty is currently awaiting the results of the inquiry into an incident in South Hedland following allegations a prisoner escaped through an open gate.

“The results are being finalised and they will be released next week,” a spokesperson from the Ministry of Justice said.

“It’s then up to the government to make a decision on what they do,” he said.

Mr McGinty said the private contract for the provision of court security and custodial services was a major issue before the State election in February.

Mr McGinty said that although the new Labor Government believed core services like court security should be provided by the public service, the contract would be upheld.

“We’ll be watching the contracts closely, these are not contracts the Labor Government would have entered into because they represent a core government service which should be provided by the public service,” Mr McGinty said.

However, it’s understood the government has made its position quite clear and AIMS Corporation has been put on notice.

Mr McGinty said AIMS Corporation was penalised $25,000 for each escape, however once there had been more than six escapes the government was in a position to review the contract.

“There’s a range of things in the non-performance area that can trigger a change to the contract,” Mr McGinty said.

“We’d look very closely if the extent of the default was to see more than six dangerous prisoners escape.”

AIMS Corporation is also penalised $30,000 for unlawful releases in a situation where administrative errors lead to the release of a prisoner.

However, this type of incident is not considered to be an escape under the contract.

If the inquiry finds that the incident in South Hedland involving Cliffy Taylor can be defined as an escape, the total number of escapes since July 31, 2000 will be pushed up to six.

The AIMS Corporation contract with the government includes provision for termination of the contract on the grounds of non-performance if there are more than six escapes in 12 months

This latest incident puts even more pressure on AIMS Corporation with more than three months remaining in the 12-month period.

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