ARARAT police are prepared for a new ward at Hopkins Correctional Centre that would house inmates judged too dangerous for release.
That’s according to Wimmera Superintendent Paul Margetts, who made the comments during Victorian Corrections Minister and Western Victoria MP Gayle Tierney’s visit to the ward’s construction site on Friday.
The 20-bed ‘secure facility’ is being built at a cost of more than $32 million and is designed to house serious sex offenders and serious violent offenders after they have completed their prison sentence.
“We have got Victoria Police members who are the part of the community advisory group in relation to the development of this facility,” Superintendent Margetts said.
“We are also working with Corrections Victoria in terms of our current divisional response plans that support the current Corella Place facility and this new facility.
“I’m really confident that we’ll be ready for the new ward when it becomes operational.”
Corella Place is a residential facility beside Hopkins Correction Centre but outside its walls that houses serious sex offenders that are deemed too dangerous for release.
The new ward at Ararat would operate on similar principle but house offenders with a wider range of convictions.
Inmates deemed to present too high of a risk to the community could be kept at the new ward on detention orders after their original sentence was completed.
The detention orders would be reviewed at least every three years.
The new ward project was announced in February.
Ms Tierney said the ward, which will feature a secure perimeter, was on track to open in 2018.
“We’re working to keep Victorians safe and this new 20-bed facility is a part of that,” she said.
“This project is not only keeping people safe, it’s also creating 150 jobs – and boosting the local economy.”
“Construction of this facility is another step towards implementing all 35 of the Harper Review’s recommendations by the end of next year.”
The Harper Review was commissioned to investigate the post-sentence supervision scheme for serious sex offenders after schoolgirl Masa Vukotic was murdered in March 2015.
Ms Tierney has previously been asked during a budget hearing in May if the new ward would be the most expensive in Australia at $400,000 per bed per year in combined construction and operational costs.
“The total funding for the 20-bed facility is $52.78 million asset, and then there is $32.06m in output. Divided over four years it works out to $400,750 per bed per year,” Ms Tierney told the hearing.
In parliament, shadow corrections minister Edward O'Donohue asked if Ms Tierney could confirm that the new prison beds were the most expensive in Australia.
Ms Tierney’s written reply on notice said the new Ararat ward would not be a prison.
“Both Corella Place and the new Ararat facility are specialist facilities, which provide supervision for our most serious offenders,” Ms Tierney stated.