Hakea Prison is suffering from a longstanding “negative and divided” workplace culture that is affecting relationships and the performance of staff, according the Inspector of Custodial Services.

Professor Neil Morgan today released a report following an inspection of the prison in May and June last year.

Mr Morgan said although Hakea met satisfactory standards in most areas, the negative workplace culture at the prison needed to change.

“The divisions were painfully marked at the time of inspection,” he said.

“Regrettably, many staff displayed a degree of cynicism and dismissiveness towards management that I have not encountered in any other prison.

“This was unhealthy, unhelpful and sometimes disrespectful.”

Making conditions worse were the rats, mice and cockroaches prominently present in the prison facilities, prompting Professor Morgan to make a recommendation for management to improve food safety programs.

“A combination of factors observed in the prison contributed to the problem, including inadequate building maintenance, accumulation of food scraps/debris and an inadequate preventative integrated pest management program,” Prof Morgan wrote.

“Many parts of the site faced some serious environmental health issues in May 2012, including vermin infestations,” he said.

“Fortunately, the kitchen was one of the few areas in the older part of the prison that was not affected by the infestation, another clear indicator that things can and should be better managed.”

Mr Morgan said some of the facilities at the prison, including the video links area and management unit, were in need of a major upgrade.

Mr Morgan said in the months since the inspection, he had noticed promising signs of improved relations at the prison.

Hakea is WA’s primary remand prison and is responsible for assessing newly sentenced prisoners.

The Department of Corrective Services welcomed the report and acknowledged Mr Morgan’s concerns.

Hakea Superintendent Bob Reeby said the prison was unique, complex and challenging.

“Our team’s pragmatic approach and professionalism maintains a functional and effective prison facility, regardless of the complex demands all prisons, but particularly remand prisons, face every day,” he said.

“There are a number of areas I would consider a work in progress, but the commitment to improvement, and existing successes, should not be underestimated.”

Twenty-seven of Mr Morgan’s 29 recommendations were supported, addressed, partly agreed to or noted by the department.

The West Australian

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