Performance targets introduced to lift prison standards

PUBLIC prisons will be required to meet and report on performance targets for the first time, as part of reforms designed to lift standards, reduce reoffending and improve community safety.

An independent consultant has been engaged to analyse public prison operations in NSW and compare them to the private sector as well as public prisons in Queensland. This will help determine best practice in prison management.

The analysis will identify the budget needed to achieve performance targets on indicators such as assaults on staff, time out of cells, engagement in inmate literacy and rehabilitation programs and other purposeful activity, and staff training hours.

Prisons will receive an individual benchmarked budget over the next two years, with consideration given to inmate classification, size, centre design and activities, and management will receive support and training to achieve the targets.

All prisons will report on their performance against the targets from late 2018.

Minister for Corrections David Elliott said the reforms will enable Corrective Services NSW for the first time to determine if prisons are meeting performance targets.

"We are investing $1.3 billion this year keeping prisoners in custody and we need to ensure taxpayer money is well spent," Mr Elliott said. "It is not good enough that we do not know which prisons are our star performers."

The Auditor General's Report "Performance frameworks in custodial centre operations", released yesterday, found CSNSW did not know how its individual prisons perform because key benchmarks had not been set. Corrective Services Commissioner Peter Severin said the reforms will ensure that public prisons are as accountable as private prisons.

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