1586. Hon Alison Xamon to the minister representing the Minister for Corrective Services:
I refer to the Office of the Inspector of Custodial Services report 118, Inspection of Albany Regional Prison, and to the fact that more than 80 percent of prisoners in Albany are from outside the local area, and I ask:
(a) why is skype not available to prisoners on weekends or late afternoons to facilitate contact with working partners and children;
(b) will the prison extend skype access for prisoners;
(c) if yes to (b):
(i) when; and
(ii) please advise any additional times skype will be available to prisoners;
(d) if no to (b), why not;
(e) given many people in Western Australia no longer have access to land lines, will the Minister consider subsidising prisoners’ calls to mobiles;
(f) if no to (e), why not;
(g) given the high numbers of foreign nationals in Albany prison, will the prison introduce a more practical approach for money to be transferred into prisoners’ phone accounts;
(h) if yes to (g), when; and
(i) if no to (g), why not?
Hon Stephen Dawson replied: The Department of Justice advises:
(a) Skype visits at Albany Regional Prison are dependent on the availability of suitably skilled staff. There are currently two Vocational Prison Officers who manage Skype visits. These VSOs are also responsible for other operational duties and their roster means that Skype visits are unavailable after 4pm on weekdays and on weekends.
(b) The Department is considering options to extend prisoner access to Skype visits.
(c) There are bandwidth constraints limiting the number of Skype units that are able to operate at Albany Regional Prison. The Department is in the process of procuring consolidated network services that will enable the prison to operate multiple Skype units.
(e) The Prisoner Telephone System (PTS) charging service is being reviewed to make call charges equitable across all custodial environments for local, national and international calls as well as fixed mobile charges.
(g) There are no plans in place to amend the current process of transferring money into prisoner phone accounts.
(i) The review of the PTS charging service is expected to bring about flat rate call charges that are expected to simplify account administration processes.