An audit of prisoner complaint handling in the South Australian Department for Correctional Services

10 Jul 2012

This audit assesses prisoner complaint handling practices against recognised national and international standards, with an eye to the realities of managing almost 2000 prisoners across South Australia’s nine prisons.

The evidence gathered in the audit indicates that the Department for Correctional Services complaint handling system is deficient in the key areas of accessibility, efficiency, fairness and accountability.

The most positive aspects of the department’s current approach to complaints management is the work done in recent years to improve the circumstances of Aboriginal people in custody. This work provides a foundation upon which to build a stronger and more productive complaint handling system for all prisoners.

Although custodial staff and managers may have the authority to deal with and resolve prisoner complaints in the first instance, the Ombudsman formed the impression that in general terms, prisoners are not confident that custodial staff and managers are able to deal with and resolve many of their complaints at the local prison level. The findings of the audit support the view that the department’s complaint handling system is inefficient, and there is a distinct lack of consistency in the way in which complaints are dealt with at the local prison level and by the department.

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