Posted March 06, 2020 13:08:00 The man behind the prison system, the servo motors, is in the spotlight again, after it emerged he used the same prison server to host the largest and most expensive private prison in Australia, with a prison population of more than 3,000 inmates.
In a rare public statement, Corrections Minister Rob Stokes says he is “deeply concerned” about the abuse of the system, with the former head of the state’s prison watchdog, Steve Pienaar, describing the breach of trust as “deep, serious and unforgivable”.
The allegations have rocked the prison and sparked calls for a full audit of the facility, and for a royal commission into the care and operation of prisons.
Pienas resignation was confirmed in a letter he sent to the minister, which was published on Friday by the ABC’s 7.30 program.
It also emerged he had been using the same server to run the state-owned Victoria Prison, the largest in the country, which he left in July 2017.
“There is no excuse for this and it is deeply concerning,” Mr Stokes said.
“The minister has accepted responsibility for his conduct and has taken responsibility for the actions of those responsible.”
He said he was “deepally concerned” at the breach and would be taking the matter to Parliament.
He told the ABC the server had been used for “administrative purposes” for the past few years, which were “not in accordance with the guidelines for such use”.
He said the use of a “vastly different” prison server “wouldn’t have been tolerated” and that it was “absolutely unacceptable” that “someone with such a great reputation and such a profound knowledge of the care of the prison network” was using the system.
“If there is a systemic problem in Victoria Prison it is because of a systemic failure of the staff in charge of that facility,” Mr Pienab said.
He said Mr Stoke had also been using an unsecured server, but Mr Piensaar was able to trace the connection to a server at a private firm in Queensland.
The Victorian Government has said it is “aware” of the matter, and it has asked the Department of Corrective Services to investigate the matter.
A spokeswoman for the department said it was aware of Mr Prienaar’s letter, but that it did not intend to take any action.
Mr Stowers said Mr Piantaar would be “held accountable” for his actions, and said there was no suggestion he had acted improperly.
He described the breach as “a significant incident”.
“I have had to take on board a serious matter of trust and I have taken the action that I have, and I am very sorry for that,” Mr Steins said.
The minister’s statement came days after a report revealed the jail’s chief executive, Peter Jones, had used the system to host private prison services, including the use by the Department for Corrective services of the private company Corrections Victoria.
It has also emerged that Corrections Victoria had “used” the servos at the prison, which cost the state $2.5 million, in order to maintain the private facilities.
The prison system was previously criticised for its handling of staff safety and prisoners’ welfare.
A spokesman for the Department told the Herald Sun the prison had had no contact with Mr Jones and that he had resigned.
Mr Jones said the servot motors, which operate a prison lock, are the most secure in the world.
“I am proud of my work as the servots chief executive and that is why I have used the servotes for the last four years,” he said.
Mr Piotaar resigned in 2017 amid allegations of serious misconduct, including allegations of lying about a number of incidents.
In 2016, he was found guilty of a series of breaches of the Corrective Service of Queensland’s rules, including not disclosing that an inmate had died in custody.
A criminal investigation into Mr Jones’s conduct was launched, and he was acquitted in the court.
The Herald Sun has reported that he is now on the board of Corrections Victoria and the Victorian Government is considering setting up a royal inquiry into the welfare of the people serving time at the Victoria Prison.
The Department for Correctional Services said in a statement: “The DOC is deeply concerned about the allegations of the use and misuse of the DOC servo systems and their impact on staff safety.”