Pubdate: Fri, 29 Jan 1999
Source: Advertiser, The (Australia)
Author: Jeremy Pudney, Police Reporter


THE discovery of 14 home-made knives in the cell of an alleged
murderer has sparked alarm over security and staffing levels at the
Adelaide Remand Centre.

Drugs and other contraband are being trafficked into the Remand Centre
while staff are too busy to conduct proper searches for them, the
Public Service Association has claimed.

The makeshift knives were discovered last week during a random search
of a cell occupied by 20-year-old Dallas Cook who is charged with
murdering his father last year.

The knives were made from razor blades which were removed from pencil
sharpeners and melted on to prison-issue plastic cutlery.

A collection of them was discovered hidden in a bed.

The PSA's general secretary, Ms Jan McMahon, said the discovery of the
knives suggested inadequate staffing had created security problems at
the Remand Centre, in Currie St, city.

"If you had adequate staff you would have regular cell checks ... it
wouldn't have got to the stage where the person has a collection of
knives," she said.

"Because of the staff shortages, they also don't have enough people to
check prisoner purchases.

"And, previously, the person would have been taken to an office to use
a pencil sharpener."

It is understood last week's cell searches also resulted in the
discovery of heroin and cannabis in other prisoners' cells.

Drugs have been trafficked into the Remand Centre in various ways

CONCEALING LSD tabs or tiny quantities of other drugs under stamps
affixed to letters.  Drugs were found under a stamp as recently as

OUTSIDERS placing drugs or other items inside tennis balls which are
then thrown into the centre's exercise yard.  Several tennis balls
containing drugs, pictures and letters were thrown into the prison
last week.

While some cases of drug trafficking were detected, Ms McMahon said
low staff levels also meant other trafficking went unnoticed.

Ms McMahon said the number of correctional officers working at the
Remand Centre had been cut by about half since it opened in 1986.

"They are being asked to deal with drug-affected people and some who
may have access to weapons," Ms McMahon said.

A spokesman for the Correctional Services Department, Mr Bill Power,
said the prisoner found in possession of the home-made knives had made
them with equipment provided for a craft project.

"We have since removed the equipment from him, his project has
concluded and he won't be doing any more," he said.

While the prisoner had breached prison regulations in making the
knives, he made them to use on his craft project, Mr Power said.

Remand Centre staff consistently acted to head-off drug trafficking,
he said.

Incoming mail was carefully examined and this now included the removal
of stamps.

Mr Power said the Correctional Services Department "totally disputes"
claims of inadequate staff at the Remand Centre.

While the number of correctional officers was now about 5 per cent
down, prisoner numbers were also down.

A number of new officers would be employed in April, Mr Power

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