Gourmet fare  in WA jails
Fine food: Camembert available in WA jails. Picture: Bill Hatto/The West Australian

Inmates in WA's jails are enjoying camembert cheese, oysters and Swiss chocolates, with tender documents revealing the choice and luxury of goods offered in WA prison canteens.

The 13-page list also shows a big range of personal grooming products, including facial scrubs, exfoliating mittens, make-up and anti-ageing creams, can be bought in WA jails.

The list, which contains almost 800 items including food, drinks, personal goods, kitchenware, hobby items and electrical goods, has attracted criticism for being "over the top" and unfair to victims of crime.

Prison officers have also raised concerns about inmates being able to buy medication such as paracetamol in prison canteens, fearing prisoners could accumulate enough tablets to overdose.

Victims of crime advocate Tom Davies, who sits on the WA Victims of Crime Reference Group, said it was another example of offenders getting better treatment than victims of crime.

"Prison is supposed to be a penalty for a crime that's been committed, not a holiday," he said.

"It's not the first time that this has raised its head.

"You hear stories of prisoners allowed out to play football.

"I understand there will always be the element of reward . . . for good behaviour but that's what parole is for."

The Department of Corrective Services has compiled the document by combining the canteen lists at all WA prisons as part of a tender process to get all canteens supplied under one contract.

The department said not all items on the list were available to all prisoners and superintendents decided what prisoners were allowed to buy from their prison's approved canteen list.

WA Prison Officers Union secretary John Welch said they had grave concerns about the sale of non-prescription medicines in prison canteens.

"We know that paracetamol in significant doses can be extremely harmful and in some cases potentially fatal for prisoners," he said. "The risks that would create for our members are enormous.

"Prisoners will try and sell anything and they'll mash it up and try and sell it on to other prisoners as illegal substances when they are not.

"The problem that creates is that people might be injecting or taking things we don't know the provenance of because they are mashed-up white powder of whatever they can buy."

Mr Welch said it could create more work for prison officers, who would have to test white powders to see if they were illegal drugs when they could be a substance bought from the canteen.

The West Australian

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