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Overcrowding caused jail assaults: Qld LNP

AAP logoAAP 15/10/2016 Jamie McKinnell

Overcrowding in Queensland's prisons is to blame for a near-doubling of assaults on corrective services staff, the state opposition claims.

Figures released by Corrective Services Minister Bill Byrne this week, following a question on notice, compared the first six months of 2016 to the same period last year.

Assaults on staff, including being pushed, spat on or hit requiring minor medical attention jumped from 73 in the 2015 period to 133 this year.

The Liberal National Party's (LNP) corrective services spokesman Tim Mander said the government's "head in the sand" approach to overcrowding was to blame.

"Our corrective services staff are paying the price," Mr Mander said.

"Prison officers shouldn't have to become punching bags because the Palaszczuk Labor Government has dropped the ball."

Mr Mander said there had been five strikes at the state's largest prisons so far this year.

In his answer to the opposition's question, Mr Byrne said the number of serious assaults - incidents that required hospitalisation - had dropped to zero for the 2016 period.

But the government took a zero-tolerance approach, he said.

"Measures have therefore been put in place to ensure the reporting of incidents is maximised and officers receive relevant training and support where appropriate," Mr Byrne said.

"Prison officers are now actively encouraged to report all incidents, no matter how minor, in order that they might be reported and investigated fully."

Last month, a scathing report by the ombudsman laid bare the extent of overcrowding in the state's jails and singled out the Brisbane Women's Correctional Centre as the worst in Queensland.

The department had continued to make "extensive use" of the practice of doubling-up prisoners in cells, Phil Clarke's report said.

Mr Byrne defended the department at the time, insisting he was comfortable with the level of service provided to inmates.

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