Death in prison van leads to transportation change

The NSW Government has responded to the recommendations of
the Deputy State Coroner MacMahon in the inquest into the death of Mark Stephen Holcroft in 2009.

Mr Holcroft (pictured centre, with family) died after he suffered a heart attack in a
prison van travelling from Bathurst Correctional Centre to Mannus Correctional

The Coroner made eight significant recommendations regarding
more humane treatment of prisoners when being transported in prison vans over
long distances.

The Government response indicates that Corrective Services NSW
has taken some positive steps toward implementation of all eight

Corrective Services NSW has responded to the key
recommendations of the Coroner as follows: 

  • A ‘Commissioner’s Instruction’ has been issued
    which ensures the provision of water, food, toilet and exercise stops to
    inmates during designated journeys. 
  • Inmates who are being transported for two hours
    or more are given food at the beginning of a journey. If a trip is more than
    three hours, inmates are given food again, and at each subsequent three-hour
  • Transport
    officers on journeys of more than three hours are required to provide inmates
    with toilet and exercise breaks at designated secure locations at correctional
    centres or police stations. 
  • 39 transport vehicles have been fitted with
    two-way intercom systems.

PIAC welcomes these responses to the Coroner’s

PIAC urges the NSW Government to ensure that the minimum
standards recommended by the Coroner be consolidated into an accessible and
publicly available set of standards regarding the transportation of prisoners.

These standards should comply with human rights principles
and be adopted Australia-wide.

Photo courtesy of Christopher Holcroft.

Related content:

Coroner says prisoners deserve better, Public Interest Advocacy Centre, 12.8.2011

Officer faces disciplinary action over death in prison vanSMH, 12.8.2011

Cries for help ignored, ABC Lateline, 20.7.2011

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