Take a tour of the Metropolitan Remand Centre

Take a tour of the Metropolitan Remand Centre


The Department of Justice invited three regular
people to take a tour of the Melbourne Remand Centre, a maximum security facility at Ravenhall
in Melbourne’s west. Their experience and discussions with the staff at the facility
dispelled some of the commonly held misconceptions about prisons and the role of a prison officer.
Upon arrival, the visitors went through a standard security screening at the entrance
of the centre. Being a maximum security facility the screening is very thorough and includes
an x-ray scan, an eye scan, and a drug detection and metal detection scan. It is mandatory
for all visitors and staff to go through these security checks. The visitors started their tour at the industries
area where they observed the work of some of the inmates. Working is encouraged as it
helps to develop skills and experience. The two main industries at MRC are wood works
and metal works where a variety of products are produced for a number of retailers. All
work is supervised, however a degree of autonomy is granted to the inmates so they can show
responsibility and independence. I was very surprised with the level of autonomy
that was evident within the woodworking and also the metal craft areas. At the end of shifts or during breaks all
tools are accounted for and a number of safety protocols are in place to ensure no unauthorised
items can be removed from the work areas. Every prisoner that works in an industry has
to walk through, this what we call industry movement control. So they entry the industry
though this door. They’ll come in and they’ll work for the day. Then they’ll be checked,
they will be stripped down, patted down and checked. Wanded, hand wanded for metal. Then
they will exit through this door, through the metal detection. So that, we also make
sure that not only do the tools stay where they’re meant to, so do some of the raw
material as in pieces of metal or timber or whatever it might be. The visitors were then lead through a number
of security checkpoints. Safety is a top priority for both inmates and staff however a common
misconception is that prison officers carry guns and other weapons. I would expect there’d be some type of weapon
on them at all times. I think for their own safety as well as safety for other people. The fact is that POs at MRC generally don’t
carry weapons as part of their standard duties or within the general prison community. POs
are trained to use their voice and body language to diffuse situations and carry radios and
duress alarms at all times. POs maintain order and assist inmates to achieve their rehabilitation
goals. This means there is generally a mutual respect between POs and inmates and physical
altercations between the two parties don’t usually happen. The visitors’ next stop was an accommodation
wing where inmates are housed. Here they had the opportunity to examine one of the cells
close up. The conditions of the prison that I looked
and looked around and in all the different areas was really exemplary. It was clean,
there wasn’t any graffiti anywhere, there wasn’t any rubbish anywhere. Each wing has its own internal observation
post, manned by a number of prison officers who are responsible for the day to day running
of the wing. One of these responsibilities is conducting scheduled head counts throughout
the day. During these times the entire facility is locked down and no one including staff
can leave or enter the facility until the count has been concluded. Another common misconception is that Prison
Officers need to be men and that a female Prison Officer would have a harder time performing
the role. I think the misconception is that you have
to be six foot two and six foot wide to be able to do the job of a prison officer which
is completely incorrect. It’s about communication and being able to interact on any level with
the prisoners. Within the prison I believe there’s a lot
of career opportunities. Not only is there I guess prisoner relation type roles so dealing
with the prisoners, you know assisting in the yards, the security check-in etcetera.
There also a lot of training opportunities or being in a management role. Then also there’s
a lot of trades that are operating within the prison. So you know wood working, there’s
metalwork. So there’s also roles in that aspect and it seemed like there’s a lot
of career growth and pathways to branch out from just I guess if you will your basic prison
officer. I definitely recommend somebody to apply for
this position because it just offers a whole career. There’s lots of development that’s
offered within the role. Give it a go, it’s worth it.

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