A new purpose-built, state-of-the-art gatehouse at the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre will help keep Victoria’s maximum security women’s prison safe and secure.
Minister for Corrections Ben Carroll today opened the new gatehouse, which is significantly larger than the original gatehouse which has been used since the prison opened in 1996.
It features stronger security including a new body scanner and biometric registration, vehicle detection technology, new office spaces and a dedicated locksmith office.
The security measures and technology in the gatehouse form part of changes to the way prisoners and visitors are searched at the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre.
Corrections Victoria has been trialing the new body scanning technology at the prison, which has resulted in a reduction in strip searches, a process which can retraumatise women who have been victims of family violence.
Through the introduction of the new scanning technology and saliva testing over the past 18 months, the number of searches has been reduced by 20,000. Given the success of the machine, a second one will be used for visitors.
The changes have included a greater focus on intelligence-led strip searching, which is one method used to detect and minimise the introduction of drugs and contraband into prisons. Other measures include drug detection dogs and random and targeted drug testing of prisoners.
These reforms are part of the Andrews Labor Government’s focus on rehabilitation and reducing the cycle of
offending. The reforms are backed by significant investment across the women’s prison system to better support the mental health and rehabilitation needs of prisoners.
Since 2015, the Labor Government has invested $40 million in a new 70-bed Mental Health and Wellbeing Precinct at DPFC and $21 million for a 132-bed Reintegration and Transition Precinct to help reduce reoffending.
The Victorian Budget 2019-20 also included $237 million to address demand in the women’s prison system and a further $20 million to expand support services and programs focused on reducing the number of women in prison.
As stated by Minister for Corrections Ben Carroll
“There are significant measures and investments rolling out across the women’s prison system aimed at better supporting our staff, keeping the community safe and improving outcomes for prisoners.”
“The new, purpose-built gatehouse is part of that, providing staff and visitors with a new entrance to the prison that has advanced processing and less intrusive security features.”