An experienced prisons inspector and investigator has been appointed the ACT’s first Inspector of Correctional Services as part of the ACT Government’s response to the recommendations of the independent review by Philip Moss into the death in custody of Steven Freeman.
Neil McAllister has been an inspector of prisons and investigator at immigration detention centres in five states, and conducted major reviews in NSW, the Northern Territory and the ACT.
Minister for Corrections Shane Rattenbury said the Inspector of Correctional Services, who will have special powers to investigate critical incidents, would increase transparency and accountability, and deter mismanagement and unfairness.
The Legislative Assembly will be provided with independent reports from the Inspector, who will be able to conduct unannounced visits to correctional centres, including court cells.
He said Mr McAllister had extensive experience conducting comprehensive reviews of correctional facilities across Australia and providing clear advice to governments on ways to improve operations and policies.
“I recognise Mr McAllister’s broad knowledge in this area, having conducted more than 100 investigations of critical incidents, including 28 deaths in custody,” he said.
“A comprehensive and systemic inspection of correctional services will also be conducted every two years and I can also refer particular issues to be reviewed.”
Mr Rattenbury said he was committed to transformational change in the Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC), which was rapidly growing and having to adapt to many challenges not predicted in its early days.
“The establishment of an Inspector of Correctional Services will focus our reform efforts, keep a steady eye on correctional facilities and services and support the implementation of real change,” he said.
“The community rightly expects improved governance, risk management strategies, health services and models of care for our detainees so that they are safe and can successfully reintegrate into our community.”
The Minister said the Inspector of Correctional Services would work with, but be distinct from, the existing oversight by the Human Rights Commission, ACT Ombudsman, Public Advocate and the Official Visitors.
The Inspector would take a whole of system focus, to identify areas for improvement and prevent poor practices.
Mr McAllister began working in corrections in 1990 in policy and research roles and as an Inspector for the Queensland Corrective Services Commission.
He was later appointed National Investigations Manager for Australasian Correctional Management responsible for conducting investigations in correctional facilities and immigration detention centres in Queensland, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and New South Wales.
From 2002 to 2008, Mr McAllister worked in Victoria within the Office of Correctional Services Commissioner and as Principal Inspector in the independent Corrections Inspectorate.
Since 2008, Mr McAllister has worked as a private consultant conducting major reviews in NSW and the Northern Territory. He was also involved in two reviews in the ACT in 2011 and 2014.