The West

Serco faces bill for  manhunt
Manhunt: More than 100 police joined the search for the fugitives. Picture: Seven News

The State Government will consider billing Serco, the company responsible for prisoner transport, for the cost of the massive police manhunt that led to the recapture of two prison escapees yesterday.

Corrective Services Minister Joe Francis said there had been mistakes on two fronts that led to the escape of Cameron John Graham, 22, and Kelden Edward Fraser, 23.

He said Serco had to accept its share of blame. "I have significant concerns, growing concerns with Serco's performance … they are starting to skate on very thin ice, they need to lift their game," Mr Francis said.

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"I would be expecting the people who made failings that led to this escape to have to make some kind of retribution to the State.

"At the end of the day that's Serco. They have to bear the responsibility of their failings."

Graham had been sentenced in November to 11 years jail for brutally raping a 36-year-old mother.

He had been sent from Perth to Geraldton to be close to his family. He was on the return journey when he escaped.

Mr Francis said the decision by a Department of Corrective Services officer to allow Graham to go to visit family so soon into his sentence was a "dumb call".

He said all non-essential prisoner movements would now need to be personally authorised by Corrective Services Commissioner James McMahon.

Mr Francis said he was awaiting a full report but his understanding was that the prisoners were not handcuffed, had managed to break down an internal partition in the van and then escaped through a door which may not have been secured.

He said the escape would result in a fine for Serco for a contract breach.

"But that doesn't go anywhere near recovering the cost of what was an extensive search by police and TRG to bring these two fugitives back into custody," he said.

"If it's possible within the contract I think Serco should pay for all of the cost.

"If Serco were good corporate citizens, we shouldn't have to chase them, they should acknowledge their failings, acknowledge the cost of their failings and just cough up the money."

Opposition corrective services minister Paul Papalia said there was a need to determine how the prisoners escaped and who was responsible.

He called for an independent judicial inquiry into the matter and also into the wider provision of corrective services by Serco.

A spokesman for Serco said the company was investigating the incident and supporting the department's investigation to understand the circumstances of the escape.

The West Australian

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