05 September 2012


Tagging victims rather than offenders? Today's SMH reports that incoming NSW prisons boss Peter Severin
wants more electronic monitoring of high-risk prisoners and is exploring the use of satellite tracking devices for use in domestic violence situations to warn women of an unwelcome approach. 
Mr Severin, 56, who replaced Ron Woodham as the Commissioner for NSW Corrective Services this week, believes electronic monitoring ''can be very effectively used for controlling offenders in the community both at the end of their sentence but also on bail''. 
Mr Severin said he had been investigating a system by which domestic violence victims were fitted with a receiver. "If the perpetrator comes within a certain radius … it sets off the alarm", he said. "I'd like to think that we across justice really explore the use of that type of technology far more intensely. We do use GPS here [in NSW] but I understand it is first generation." 
The Police Commissioner, Andrew Scipione, recently said the electronic tracking anklet devices were totally unreliable after the accused murderer Ron Medich was allowed to stop wearing one in June. 
But Mr Severin said the latest generation of devices were more advanced.
The same newspaper only days earlier reported that the company
responsible for the electronic monitoring of serious criminals and providing security around prisons has failed to complete its state government contract. Internal government documents obtained by the Herald reveal that ATMAAC International asked to break its contract with Corrective Services NSW in May because it was in financial difficulty.  
The company, which was engaged to provide armed perimeter security for maximum security jails including Long Bay and Goulburn, wrote to the Attorney-General, Greg Smith, asking to trade out of its contract. 
The company also used electronic tracking anklets of the kind that monitors about 20 of the state's worst sex offenders. 
The NSW Police Commissioner, Andrew Scipione, recently described the devices as ''totally unreliable'' after the accused murderer Ron Medich was allowed to stop wearing a GPS tracking device in June. 
In a letter dated July 31, Mr Smith's department warned the director-general of the Department of Finances & Services, Michael Coutts-Trotter, that if ATMAAC was unable to continue delivering its prison security services ''there is both an unacceptable security risk to CSNSW [Corrective Services NSW] operations and an adverse financial risk if CSNSW is required to resume providing those services''. The letter from the director-general of the Attorney-General's department, Laurie Glanfield, said GEO Group Australia had been identified as an alternative service provider. 
The former director-general of Corrective Services NSW, Ron Woodham, and Mr Glanfield had agreed to a recommendation seeking approval to negotiate with GEO Group in late July. 
They said there would be an ''adverse financial risk'' if the Corrective Services NSW was required to resume providing the prison security services. 
The correspondence repeatedly warned of the risk of adverse media attention about ''the failure of a government contract''. 
Stewart Little, a senior industrial officer for the Public Service Association NSW, said the failure of the government contract with ATMAAC had made a ''mockery of the tendering process''. 
He said his association had not been informed of the new arrangements beginning today. 
Mr Little said it was disturbing that responsibility for electronic monitoring of prisoners convicted of serious crimes has been left to private contractors instead of Corrective Services NSW.
Never fear, tracking is in safe hands?