THE head of Loddon Campaspe Community Legal Centre says the state government is facing a “perfect storm” with overcrowding of police cells and an inefficient parole system.
Co-ordinator of the Bendigo-based organisation Peter Noble said the prisoner holding system was bursting at the seams.
Mr Noble said the pressure placed on police holding cells meant there was an urgent need for a review similar to the independent report on the Adult Parole Board.
He said last week’s review of the parole system, followed by a damning Ombudsman’s report on police holding cells, highlighted the need for a major overhaul.
“Through a combination of events, the state government have got a serious challenge on their hands,” he said.
“I think what this demonstrates is a perfect storm scenario.”
A review of the state’s parole system by former High Court Justice Ian Callinan found several violent criminals had been released into the community without proper consideration of public safety.
The state government was handed the report last Tuesday, prompting Premier Denis Napthine to declare Victoria would have the “toughest parole system in Australia”.
Mr Noble said he welcomed calls for changes to transparency and operation of the parole board.
But he said the problems were broader than the management of the parole board or its decision making process.
He said many of the failings had stemmed from a lack of funding.
“Most of the measures (in Justice Callinan’s review) are predictable and critical,” he said.
“Many correspond to needs that have been previously articulated and reflect the board’s chronic under-resourcing.”
Mr Noble said the same could be said of the prisoner holding cells.
The issue of overcrowding was highlighted in Bendigo last month when two prisoners broke out of custody from Bendigo police station.
Victorian Ombudsman George Brouwer described in his report the “unacceptable state” of crowded police holding cells that were increasingly exceeding capacity.
Mr Noble said the issue would require significant new investment by the government.