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West Australian prison officers stood down

The head of WA’s corruption watchdog has stood down two prison officers at a privately-run jail and warned more could follow in an ongoing investigation into the smuggling of drugs and other illegal items.

Corruption and Crime Commission boss John McKechnie said the investigation had discovered “disturbing information and evidence about the ease by which serious drugs and steroids can be smuggled into prisons”.

The two custodial officers who were suspended are employed at Perth’s Acacia Prison, which is run by private company Serco.

The officers were suspected of engaging in serious misconduct following a joint inquiry by the CCC, Department of Justice and WA Police, a statement said.

The investigation was focusing on improper associations between custodial officers and prisoners, and the facilitation of drugs and contraband into WA prisons.

Mr McKechnie told 6PR radio on Friday that he was also disturbed about the lack of proper security checks at Acacia.

“Also, the ability of some prisoners to attempt to groom some prisoners outside and make relationships, which they then use to subvert the officers,” he said.

The joint investigation is also looking at prisons all over the state, and people including other prison officers, Mr McKechnie said.

Those people may avoid more serious punishments if they come forward now.

“If they think they have been doing the wrong thing, they want to come and tell us,” he said.

“We are more interested in the systemic problem. They may not know we are already looking and listening.”

The CCC has special powers to compel people to be interviewed confidentially and under oath, but can also offer protection to witnesses.

The Department of Justice would not comment on the two officers but said it had “zero tolerance for any form of corruption or misconduct that compromises the safety and security of the prison estate and WA community”.

“Prison officers hold a position of trust and any action that undermines this and the valuable work done by the majority of prison officers is unacceptable,” a statement said.

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