The number of assaults and related offences recorded within Ararat’s Hopkins Correctional Centre has increased by more than 333 per cent since 2010.
That is according to figures requested by Fairfax Media from Victoria’s Crime Statistics Agency.
The figures represent incidents logged with Victoria Police rather than internal numbers on drug and weapons incidents published every few months by Corrections Victoria.
Police recorded 91 assaults and related offences within the prison during last year, with a total of 128 crimes against the person, while drug crimes decreased by 63 per cent.
Corrections Victoria has largely attributed the increasing violence to growing prisoner numbers, with the population having almost doubled since 2010 due to the addition of new beds and significant expansion works completed in 2015.
Ararat’s prison also now houses a larger remand population and a substantially higher proportion of non-sex offenders.
Prison workers consider sex offenders to be less likely to cause violence and Ararat prison’s high proportion of such offenders in the past has been used a selling point to recruit guards.
A Corrections Victoria spokesperson said the department strived to maintain a safe, secure working environment for all staff, prisoners and visitors.
“Staff at Hopkins Corrections Centre and Langi Kal Kal prison work tirelessly to detect and address illegal activity, and receive comprehensive training,” the spokesperson said.
“Staff employ a range of tactics to address illegal activity, including detailed risk analysis, drug testing, contraband detection methods and use of equipment such as capsicum spray, CCTV and body-worn cameras.”
The spokesperson said Corrections Victoria was also constantly striving to improve detection and response capabilities, which have improved significantly in recent years thanks to initiatives including:
- The introduction of body worn cameras and training for more and 1700 staff in tactical operations during 2016-17;
- Purchasing additional emergency response equipment and providing ongoing riot formation training to over 1500 staff since 2017; and
- Funding for more than 520 additional staff in public prisons since 2015.