The purpose of the Custodial Inspector is to provide independent, proactive, preventative and systemic oversight of custodial centres.
In particular, the Custodial Inspector provides external scrutiny through an independent statutory office and the publication of reports and recommendations. The focus of the Inspector is on systemic issues relating to the management, control and security of the State’s prisons and youth detention centre and the care and welfare of prisoners and detainees.
The Custodial Inspector has jurisdiction over all custodial centres in Tasmania. A custodial centre is defined as a prison within the meaning of the Corrections Act 1997, and a detention centre within the meaning of the Youth Justice Act 1997.
In effect, this means that at present Tasmania Prison Service facilities, including the remand centre and holding cells at the Hobart Reception Prison and the Launceston Reception Prison, and the Ashley Youth Detention Centre are subject to the oversight of the Custodial Inspector.
Inspections may be instigated by the Custodial Inspector, or at the request of the Minister responsible for the custodial centre. Either House of Parliament, or a Committee of either House of Parliament, may request the Custodial Inspector to report to Parliament on any particular issue or general matter relating to the functions of the Inspector.
The Custodial Inspector is able to examine custodial centres at any time and make recommendations about issues of concern. The Custodial Inspector reports to the Minister who is required to table the Inspector’s report in each House of Parliament.
The functions of the Custodial Inspector are set out in the Custodial Inspector Act 2016. The Custodial Inspector’s principal functions include:
- mandatory and occasional inspections and reviews of each custodial centre in Tasmania
- preparing and publishing guidelines in relation to the conduct of inspection and reviews
- reporting to the Minister and Parliament on inspections and any issues or general matters relating to his or her functions
- providing an annual report to Parliament
- providing advice or recommendations relating to the safety, custody, care, wellbeing and rehabilitation of prisoners and detainees
- providing information relating to education and programs to assist in the rehabilitation of prisoners and detainees.
The legislation also prescribes the power of the Custodial Inspector. Broadly, these powers include:
- the right to visit and examine custodial centres including areas that are related to the custodial centre
- obtaining information, access to documents and information relating to custodial centres or persons in custody, including obtaining information from persons in any manner.
These legislative powers ensure that the Custodial Inspector has access to sites, information and material required to undertake his or her functions.
The Custodial Inspector’s office has developed a set of Inspection Standards for both juvenile and adult custodial centres. The Inspection Standards establish the inspection benchmarks for effective, accountable and humane custodial services. The standards were developed taking into account the full range of relevant international treaties, covenants, and the Standard Guidelines for Corrections in Australia.
A copy of the standards can be found on the Standards and guidelines page.
Please note: The Custodial Inspector cannot investigate individual complaints except insofar as they relate to systemic issues present in the correctional environment. If you have an individual complaint, this can be directed to the Tasmanian Ombudsman.
About the Custodial Inspector
The Custodial Inspector was established in 2016 by the Custodial Inspector Act 2016.
Tasmania's first Custodial Inspector, Richard Connock, was appointed in January 2017.
Mr Connock is also the Tasmanian Ombudsman and Health Complaints Commissioner.
He has extensive experience as a barrister and solicitor, principally in Victoria. Following his move to Tasmania in 2000, however, Mr Connock focused more on consultancy than legal work and before joining the Office of the Ombudsman, provided investigation, conciliation and mediation services for a number of government agencies and private organisations.