Detention centres are ‘dysfunctional’

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Three asylum seekers escaped a Western Australia detention centre in 45 seconds last week, exposing major security flaws at the facility, a leaked report has revealed.


The January 12 breakout was the third escape from the Yongah Hill Detention Centre in five months and an embarrassment for Serco, which manages Australia’s detention centres and WA’s prisoner transport system.

Documents reveal security weaknesses including asylum-seeker access to the internet for maps, to book plane tickets and organise getaway cars through social media.

Detainees had also become more confident as a result of the number of recent escapes and the lack of penalties, while the voltage on the 3.2-metre electric fence at Yongah Hill was not strong enough to shock escapees and was easy to climb.

A Serco insider described the entire system as “dysfunctional” and said he was speaking out against “incompetence”.

“There is no training given and everything is about money,” he told The Sunday Times newspaper.

“Every time we have these incidents the main effort isn’t improving, but more so passing the buck and looking for someone to blame.”

Two of the Vietnamese detainees from the January 12 breakout have been caught, but the third remains on the run.

A spokeswoman for Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said recommendations made by Serco following any escape incident were considered and implemented if appropriate.

“There are service standards in place with regard to performance against the department’s contract with its detention service provider, Serco, and compliance with these standards is regularly reviewed,” she told AAP.

“Security is a key performance indicator under the contract and there is provision for abatement for such breaches.”

The incident happened a week after a rapist and alleged armed robber kicked their way out of a prison van at Geraldton Airport, prompting a 36-hour manhunt.

A third prisoner escaped from Serco’s custody while being treated at Joondalup Health Campus on Friday afternoon and was caught on Sunday.

The prisoner ripped a metal rail off a wall and threatened staff, so guards shut him in a bathroom and it is believed he then climbed through the ceiling to escape.

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