Inspector tables damning report on Metropolitan Prison days after death in custody

Australian Greens

The Inspector of Custodial Services’ most recent report has been tabled in parliament just days after a death by suspected hanging has occurred in Parklea correctional facility. The report, undertaken in 2022 at Metropolitan Remand and Reception Centre cites unsafe conditions, obvious ligature points, routine strip searches and a culture of negligence at the State’s largest remand centre.

Greens MP and spokesperson for justice Sue Higginson said: “It is deeply concerning that just days after the recent death by suspected hanging at Parklea we receive this report which lays bare the unsafe conditions, including presence of ligature points, in the holding cells at Metropolitan Remand and Reception Centre.”

“The evidence is damning. There is no excuse to house people in these conditions. The existence of these ligature points is not only dangerous, it is reckless. These points represent an existential threat for inmates already suffering under the most abject conditions.

“Not only are inmates held in unsafe and dangerous conditions, with the presence of ligature points in their cells, they are also subject to the most degrading and inhumane conditions with strip searches being carried out routinely. Entering the custodial system is stressful enough without being subject to excessively punitive and degrading treatment.

“It is appalling that the Government is denying basic human rights to people kept in remand. Many inmates in remand have not been found guilty of an allegation, some are there because they could not satisfy the courts or police that they have a stable address for the purpose of bail and they are being treated in the most demeaning ways. Given the escalating number of people being held on remand, fixing this dire situation should be a priority of the Minns Labor Government. Prisons, especially remand centres, should be safe places where people can access the help they need, not institutions which further entrench cycles of punishment, suffering and crime.

“Right now, human rights abuses are being carried out just 19 km from Sydney’s CBD. These institutions are not only failing our inmates, they are failing all of society.

“The removal of ligature points from cells is fundamental to end preventable deaths in custody. Action must be taken swiftly to ensure no further loss of life occurs in this way.

“The findings in this report come as a warning shot to the Minns Labor Government. Act now to ensure our prisons are places of rehabilitation, not harm. A prison sentence should not mean a death sentence.

“Our prisons can be places of care and rehabilitation. The current systems are failing us all in what can only be described as a serious waste of human potential and life. We have the resources, we have the knowledge. All we need is the political decision to commit to change this shameful legacy,” Ms Higginson said.

/Public Release. View in full here.