New Grafton jail general manager Glen Scholes has moved across from the public jail system to Serco to take up this role.
New Grafton jail general manager Glen Scholes has moved across from the public jail system to Serco to take up this role. Tim Howard

LOCKED IN: Clarence Correctional Centre GM appointed

THE challenge of managing Australia's largest corrections centre has lured a 30-year veteran of the State's prison system into the private sector.

Multi-national corrections company Serco has announced Glen Scholes as the general manager of the 1700-bed Clarence Correctional Centre at Lavadia, south of Grafton.

The decision to move across from Corrective Services NSW to private system came late to Mr Scholes, who earlier this year attended the sod-turning ceremony at the jail site as the director of Custodial Corrections North.

In that role he had 13 prisons from the Hawkesbury to the Queensland border reporting to him, including the one at Grafton.

"I was there for the ceremony looking around, never thinking this would be me," he said.

But the prospect of taking control of the largest correctional facility in Australia and turning it into the "jewel in the crown" of jails in the country was irresistible.

"When this came up, because it's uniquely designed and the operation is something that is out of the box anywhere across the country, I decided this is for me," Mr Scholes said.

"It's the innovation that's driving for me."

Mr Scholes said the new jail would begin accepting prisoners in the middle of next year, but would be commissioned and tested from early in 2020.

He has made significant contributions to many of the reforms begun in NSW and believed Grafton's new jail could be a platform for innovation.

"My main objective is to ensure the safety, security and good order of the centre, as we all achieve the Government's objectives for reducing re-offending and enhancing community safety," he said.

"We have a dedicated team here at the centre who are experts in their fields.

"There is a lot of work being done to enhance our operations through innovative systems that will deliver positive outcomes for inmates, the local community and the NSW Government."

Mr Scholes said recruiting has begun for the 600 positions at the jail.

He said Serco expected many of these position to come from the local community.

He said the innovations the system offered plus motivating inmates with a combination of incentive and rewards, would enable the the new centre to meet its government-imposed KPIs to reduce re-offending.

He said prisoners ususally came from difficult backgrounds.

"Many of them have had abuse themselves and as a correctional centre our primary role is the safety security and good order of the centre," he said.

"That's what we're there for."

But while the community safety role is of paramount importance to the community, Mr Scholes want the new centre to achieve much more.

"About 97 per cent of inmates will go back out after they've finished their sentences," he said.

"We have to try and turn their attitudes and behaviours around through pro-social programs and also criminogenic programs."

Mr Scholes said the programs had to look at the offending of the prisoners.

"We look at what made them commit a crime and address that, whether that be drug addiction, whether that be abuse issues they've have, whether that be their friends and associates, we need to get to the core issue.

"And we need to make sure we skill them up to the point where they can return to their communities as law-abiding people."

Mr Scholes said all of this would bring benefits to the Clarence Valley.

"We look forward to employing many people from the Valley and surrounds," he said.

"There's also going to be potential for local businesses to provide services to the centre and potential for the centre to provide services to the Valley."

He said ultimately he wanted the centre to be somewhere the staff and community could be proud of.

"There will also be a lot of people, like myself, coming to the Valley to enjoy the lifestyle," he said.

"We want to be working at a place that enhances our lives and we can be proud to say we're involved in."

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