Escape reveals range of faults in prison vans

An investigation into the escape of two maximum-security prisoners from a van at Geraldton airport last month has revealed a range of failings in WA's prisoner transport services.

Cameron John Graham, a convicted rapist, and Kelden Edward Fraser, an alleged armed robber, were being transferred from Greenough Regional Prison to prisons in Perth when they went on the run for 36 hours.

Corrective Services Commissioner James McMahon has made 27 recommendations in a report, which has not been released publicly, to improve the State's court security and custodial services, which are run by private firm Serco.

A four-page summary of the report, tabled in Parliament yesterday, revealed the prison van's CCTV system, which would have recorded the escape, had not been working for weeks before the January 3 breakout.

Corrective Services Minister Joe Francis said the Corruption and Crime Commission concluded there was no evidence to suggest intentional interference with the CCTV system.

He said he would not publicly release the full report because the information might be exploited and endanger the security of prison officers and help prisoners escape.

The report said two Serco officers "degraded the security" of the van when they "followed a common practice of opening the outer pod door for increased ventilation for prisoners".

Graham and Fraser, who were sharing a pod in the van, kicked open the pod's inner door because of "structural and design flaws" and then fled through the open outer van door.

The summary said "a more co-ordinated approach to initial scene attendance is required".

It is understood there were concerns that the van was not treated like a crime scene and instead was continued to be used after the escape.

The investigation, which was carried out by the Department of Corrective Services, said maintenance, testing and inspections of prison vans needed to be clearly arranged and testing must be done by independent qualified people.

The West Australian

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