Adjournment – Prison Contraband

My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Corrections. It follows the recent release of the latest Drugs in Victorian Prisons report. On the one hand I congratulate the Government for continuing to release this report. That it does so comprehensively and on a monthly basis and that officers in the prison system appear to be undertaking this testing and checking work on a regular, ongoing basis is very welcome. On the other hand it is, sadly, one of the more disheartening public documents that I continue to come across in this job. The reason I say that is that seemingly without fail it continues to paint a very disturbing picture of the scale of the drug use within, and the level of the smuggling of contraband substances into, Victorian jails. I should clarify here that contraband, the way that the report defines it, includes items like further drugs, alcohol, syringes and needles and edged weapons. In this latest version, which details statistics from June, the number of positive random drug tests across Victorian prisons had increased to more than 5 per cent. For the year to June the report also revealed that there were seizures of contraband from prisoners amounting to over 750 litres of alcohol, around 900 edged weapons, 360 syringes and needles and nearly 2000 hits of heroin replacement drug. In each case that is a significant increase on the already alarming numbers from the previous 12 months. Clearly these kinds of figures elicit many questions about the effectiveness of any deterrents and punishments being imposed on prisoners found to be using and/or possessing drugs and other contraband. Similarly they raise many concerns about what sanctions, if any, are being applied to people caught trying to smuggle drugs and/or contraband into the prisons. The action that I therefore seek from the Minister is that he clarify how the government has established the benchmark for the levels of drugs and contraband use that are stipulated in the drugs in prisons report and why it should apparently be regarded as acceptable that there should be any drugs or contraband items allowed in the state’s prisons at all. As part of the response I would also be grateful if the Minister could clarify what percentage of the tests and checks that are identified in the report are performed on prisoners purely as they enter jail, as opposed to prisoners who are already serving their sentence.