North East police called away to help jails

NORTH East police officers have been taken off their rest days to help other stations cope with cells over-flowing with prisoners from a stressed jail system.

Police told The Border Mail Benalla officers on their rest and leave days were looking after prisoners from Melbourne that are being held temporarily at the Seymour police station cells during the past month.

They said Seymour did not have enough police to cover the extra prisoners coming from over-crowded Melbourne jails.

Victorian Police Association secretary Greg Davies said it had been a “major problem” occurring across the state for some time, but there was an end in sight.

He described a meeting with Corrections Minister Edward O’Donohue last Thursday as “productive”.

“They’ve got a schedule of new bunks and beds,” Mr Davies said.

“That should see an end to that sort of practice.”

Mr Davies said about 280 extra beds in prisons across the state should relieve pressure on the system by February.

He said three weeks ago there were 370 prisoners kept in police cells in Victoria, but it had dropped to up to 280 prisoners in cells in the past week.

Mr Davies said jail was the best place for prisoners and they shouldn’t be placed in police cells.

“It’s nowhere near ideal, particularly when you’re going from one policing area you leave another policing area desperately short of people,” he said.

“With any luck we’ll very shortly see the end of that.”

Beechworth Correctional Centre is one of several prisons in the state being considered for an expansion by Corrections Victoria.

Corrections services heads were assessing whether to bring shipping containers in to house the extra prisoners at the centre as they have done with Dhurringile prison near Shepparton.

The shipping containers have been used to house prisoners across the country and also used as university accommodation in Canberra.

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