The virtues of privatizing security in Western Australia have been brought into question by the much publicized death of an Indigenous elder in Kalgoorlie at the beginning of 2008. Since that time, there have been a range of instances in WA (and nationally) where the management of prisoner security has been the subject of intense public debate. In this paper, we examine how a government has difficulty in maintaining control of a private company service when contracting it out, yet retains the ongoing responsibility for its success or failure and the exercise of due diligence. In the area of protecting persons and prisoner security, this includes a duty of care for all those in custody. Much research has attended to the need for private security in various locations, to prescriptions about what they do and to how the practices of security officers or firms should be held accountable. But given that public policies are devised and implemented within a political context where prisoner welfare is not usually afforded a high priority for government, how do we also ensure that looking after individuals in custody and prompting respect for certain standards retains a high place on the political agenda?


Peer-reviewed, Published in Full


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The Authors:

Dr Martin Drum

Dr Daniel Baldino