Update: disturbances at Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre

Commissioner Peter Martin APM has acknowledged the remarkable actions of Queensland Corrective Services (QCS) officers for the professional way they responded to ongoing disturbances at the Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre (AGCC) over the past 24 hours.

A number of disturbances occurred at AGCC yesterday afternoon and last night in a secure unit which was quickly resolved by officers from Arthur Gorrie with the assistance from other Wacol-based centres. During this incident a small number of prisoners managed to get out of their cells into a secure common area. They were contained at all times and at no risk of escape, and they were returned to their cells in a short time frame.

A further, similar incident occurred this morning.

During the incidents prisoners started small fires, smashed louvres and CCTV cameras, but have not caused significant infrastructure damage.

QCS senior management are on site providing support to the staff and undergoing a briefing to establish the circumstances of these incidents and what support staff require.

Commissioner Martin has praised the actions of officers, many of whom have stepped in to support the remaining staffing group at Arthur Gorrie after a large number of officers were required to quarantined due to positive COVID-19 cases in two officers who worked at the centre recently.

“I am extremely thankful for the officers that are working at AGCC at the moment are doing a remarkable job working in a new environment, with new teams and under extremely tense circumstances and I could not be prouder of their response.”

“They have selflessly agreed to work in a facility that they are unfamiliar with and which has different infrastructure to other QCS prisons. I thank them for their professional conduct and resilience in a very complex and dangerous situation.

“We are continuing to put in procedures and processes to mitigate the risk of officers working with unfamiliar systems and are closely supporting our officers to continue to run the centre.

“The conduct of our officers has been outstanding and I thank them all for an exceptional response.”

“With more than 170 prisoners tested for COVID-19 and in quarantine after potential exposure to COVID-19, it is incredibly disappointing that some segments of the prisoner population are choosing to behave in such a disgraceful manner.

“Our staff are doing everything in their power to keep these prisoners safe during a pandemic which would have disastrous impact should it get into the prison population, and the behaviour of these groups of prisoners is reprehensible. They are putting our officers, themselves and other prisoners at risk.

“Locking down was a last resort, but essential to try to protect the health and safety of prisoners in line with the latest advice from Queensland Health,” Commissioner Martin said.

Some 36 prisoners and two officers were treated for smoke inhalation by Queensland Ambulance Service as a result of the incidents overnight, with one prisoner being transported to hospital for treatment of a slightly elevated temperature.

The centre remains in Stage 4 lockdown and the damage to the prison will continue to be assessed today.

We are grateful for the support of Queensland Police, Queensland Fire and Emergency Services and QAS as we settle these incidents.