Prisoners to be moved 1500km on civilian bus
TWO dozen prisoners will be moved from Darwin to Alice Springs on a civilian bus in a move prison officers have described as "worrying".
On Friday morning, 18 male and six female medium-security prisoners will be driven by a commercial bus driver, a source close to the corrections system told the NT News.
Six prison officers from Alice Springs will be flown to Darwin to act as security guards on the bus.
"There are two main concerns with this," the source said.
"Firstly, I know the officers are worried this is the first step in the department privatising the prisons, when officers are meant to do both security and escort.
"With this decision, they're not doing the escort - a civilian is."
The source said the only reason to use a civilian bus would be as a "cost-saving measure", which was "worrying because it's the officers who have training".
It's understood the civilian bus may be bigger than the prisons' transfer buses, allowing more prisoners to be moved in one go.
The source said the second worry was that male and female prisoners were not meant to be transported together, due to cultural reasons and possible domestic violence links.
"There will allegedly be a barrier between them, but we don't know if that will be physical or just an officer," the source said.
It is not clear why the prisoners are being moved to Alice Springs, where there were riots in late December because of a lack of airconditioning in the cells in 50C heat.
At the time, an officer said there were 650 prisoners in the prison, which was built for 350.
An NT Correctional Services spokeswoman said: "NT Correctional Services does not comment on operational or security-related matters."