26 September 2023

New watchdog for detention centres

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New laws to establish an Independent Inspector of Detention Services to provide greater oversight of Queensland’s detention facilities has been passed by Parliament.

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Shannon Fentiman said the establishment of the new Inspectorate highlighted the Government’s commitment to upholding humane treatment and the conditions of people who find themselves detained.

“Once established, the Inspector of Detention Services will operate independently and have the authority to regularly or randomly inspect places of detention and review their services at any time,” Ms Fentiman said.

“This includes overseeing our youth detention centres, prisons, and police watch-houses.

She said the Inspectorate would report its findings to Parliament and make recommendations to ensure places of detention were managed well, with services that supported the general care, treatment and wellbeing of detainees.

“The position of the Inspector will be held by the Queensland Ombudsman, with additional staff recruited to support the Inspectorate’s functions,” Ms Fentiman said.

“The Inspectorate will have its own resourcing, with separate and distinct functions and powers,” she said.

“A key responsibility of the Inspectorate will be the prevention of harm by examining the systems and experiences of people in detention.”

She stressed that this in no way altered the focus of the criminal justice system on holding offenders to account and keeping the community safe.

“This legislation strengthens the systems that oversee these facilities, ensuring they are managed well and operate effectively,” the Attorney-General said.

“It is our hope that the establishment of the Inspector of Detention Services will foster continuous improvement for all places of detention and related services throughout Queensland,” she said.

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