The State Government has passed new laws to establish an Independent Inspector of Detention Services (IIDS) who will provide greater oversight of Queensland’s custodial facilities.
Attorney-General and Justice Minister Shannon Fentiman this afternoon announced the establishment of the independent body to be headed by Queensland Ombudsman Anthony Reilly
Ms Fentiman said the proposed IIDS would be tasked with the prevention of harm in the state’s numerous correctional facilities via examination of systems and the experiences of people held in custody.
“Once established, the (IIDS) will operate independently and have the authority to regularly or randomly inspect places of detention and review their services at any time,” she said. “This includes overseeing … youth detention centres, prisons, and police watch-houses.
“The Inspector will report their findings to Parliament and make recommendations to ensure places of detention are managed well, and services support the general care, treatment and well-being of detainees.”
Ms Fentiman said the position of the IIDS Inspector would held by the Queensland Ombudsman, currently Mr Reilly – an experienced lawyer, public administrator and former CEO of Legal Aid Queensland.
It is expected the IIDS will receive its own funding and recruit additional staff to support the Inspector’s functions.
Mr Fentiman said the formation of the IIDS was a response to recommendations of various government-sourced independent reviews.
These included April 2017’s Independent Review of Youth Detention report, former Court of Appeal President Walter Sofronoff’s review of the parole system in February 2017, and the Crime and Corruption Commission’s December 2018 Taskforce Flaxton report in response to corruption risks in corrections facilities.
Ms Fentiman said that, while the Government remained committed to holding criminals accountable, it was also responsible for ensuring their safety whilst in custody.
“Let me be clear here – our criminal justice system remains focused on holding offenders to account and keeping the community safe,” Ms Fentiman said.
“This legislation strengthens the systems that oversee these facilities, ensuring they are managed well and operate effectively. Additional responsibilities of the role include preparing and publishing standards in relation to the conduct of inspections.
“It is our hope that the establishment of the Inspector of Detention Services will foster continuous improvement for all places of detention and related services throughout Queensland.”