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Procedure Properties

Title: Telephone and video-conference calls for offenders
Category: Offender Management
Version: 07
Implement Date: 1 December 2009
Application: Custodial Operations
Availability: Public

Authority

Appendices and Forms

Procedures

Local Procedures

Policies

  • Instrument of Delegation of Chief Executive Powers - Corrective Services Act 2006 (in-confidence)

Performance Measures

  • Nil

Procedure - Telephone and video-conference calls for offenders


Purpose
1.Process
2.Definitions
3.Telephone calls
3.1Enrolling on the PTS
3.2Prohibited telephone numbers
3.3Offender access
3.4Community accounts
3.5Diverting telephone calls
3.6Recorded message preceding PTS calls
3.7Recording telephone calls
3.8Monitoring telephone calls
3.9Archiving PTS records
3.10Officer initiated call
3.11Obligations under the agreement with ComSecTR
4.Costing calls
5.Personal video-conference calls
5.1General
5.2Approved community video-conference sites
5.3Application for video-conference call
5.4Approval
5.5Duration
5.6Payment for video-conferencing calls
5.7Bookings
5.8Recording or monitoring of video-conference calls
5.9Termination of video-conference calls

Purpose

To provide for the management of offender access to telephones and video-conferencing technology.

1. Process

The general manager of a corrective services facility must establish systems for the management, control and administration for offender access to-

  1. telephones; and
  2. video-conferencing technology (if available at facility).

2. Definitions

Alarmed Calls - means the setting in the PTS/VCT to indicate when a specific telephone number is being called.

Alarmed Offenders - means the setting in the PTS/VCT to indicate when a particular offender is making a call.

Approved Operators - means Queensland Corrective Services (QCS) staff authorised to access the computer for system management.

Authorised Operators - means persons, other than QCS employees, authorised to access the PTS computer for system management. Levels of approved and authorised operators are-

  1. Level 1 - workface staff level;
  2. Level 2 - Admin level (record modification);
  3. Level 3 - intelligence officer level;
  4. Level 4 - System Level;
  5. Level 5 - Service Level.

Auto Dial List - means the telephone numbers (maximum 10) programmed into the PTS/VCT on an offender's application, to which the offender may make private calls.

Community Account - means an account to which all offenders have access to make telephone calls to approved organisations.

Community Site - means a community or Government run site with video-conferencing facilities approved by the chief executive.

Contact Officer - means an officer nominated by the general manager of a corrective services facility as being responsible for the assessment and coordination of inter-facility offender contact for that facility.

Contact Plan - means an approved program of inter-facility offender contact by telephone, visits or video-conference.

De-facto Partner / Partnership -has the meaning provided in Acts Interpretation Act 1954, s 32DA. In part, section 32DA provides-

(1) In an Act, a reference to a “de facto partner” is a reference to either 1 of 2 persons who are living together as a couple on a genuine domestic basis but who are not married to each other or related by family.
(2) In deciding whether 2 persons are living together as a couple on a genuine domestic basis, any of their circumstances may be taken into account, including, for example, any of the following circumstances -
(a) the nature and extent of their common residence;
(b) the length of their relationship;
(c) whether or not a sexual relationship exists or existed;
(d) the degree of financial dependence or interdependence, and any arrangement for financial support;
(e) their ownership, use and acquisition of property;
(f) the degree of mutual commitment to a shared life, including the care and support of each other;
(g) the care and support of children;
(h) the performance of household tasks;
(i) the reputation and public aspects of their relationship.
(3) No particular finding in relation to any circumstance is to be regarded as necessary in deciding whether 2 persons are living together as a couple on a genuine domestic basis.
(4) Two persons are not to be regarded as living together as a couple on a genuine domestic basis only because they have a common residence.
(5) For subsection (1)-
(a) the gender of the persons is not relevant; and
(b) a person is related by family to another person if the person and the other person would be within a prohibited relationship within the meaning of the Marriage Act 1961 (Cth), section 23B, if they were parties to a marriage to which that section applies.

Geographical Remoteness - means a place that is physically isolated from a major service centre due to distance, difficulty and cost of travel or seasonal and climatic conditions affecting travel and transport.

Inter-facility Offender Contact - means contact by way of telephone, visit or video-conference between offenders accommodated at different facilities.

Legal Calls - means telephone calls to numbers listed on the auto dial list as authorised legal numbers. Legal calls must not be recorded or monitored. Legal calls include calls to -

  1. an offender's lawyer;
  2. an officer of a law enforcement agency;
  3. the Ombudsman; and
  4. any other number which has been approved with a requirement that calls to that number not be recorded or monitored.

Operator Initiated Call - means a telephone or video-conference call initiated by a Level 1 approved operator on the PTS/VCT on behalf of an offender.

Party A - means the offender or officer making a call.

Party B - means the person receiving a call made by an offender.

Offender Initiated Call - means the cost of a telephone or video-conference call initiated by an offender on the PTS/VCT.

Prisoner Telephone System (PTS) - means the system installed by the ComSecTR Pty Ltd under an agreement with Queensland Corrective Services for use by offenders.

Private Calls - means calls to numbers listed on the auto dial list, which are not numbers authorised as legal call numbers.

Recorded Conversation - means a conversation between parties A and B of an offender's telephone call which is recorded on the PTS/VCT digital tape.

Recorded Message - means the message contained on a tape that is activated when a call is placed.

Requesting Facility - means the facility accommodating the offender who is requesting the inter-facility contact.

Receiving Facility - means the facility hosting the inter-facility contact.

Re-recorded Conversation - means a conversation between parties A and B of an offender's telephone call which has been re-recorded from the PTS/VCT digital tape onto another form of electronic media attached to the PTS.

Tagged Calls - means calls of interest for security or management purposes that have been electronically "tagged" for scrutiny.

Video-Conferencing Technology (VCT) - means the system enabling visual contact by offenders with family located in another corrective services facility or a remote community.

3. Telephone calls

Refer Corrective Services Act 2006 (CSA) s. 50

Offenders accommodated in high and low security corrective services facilities must use the Prisoner Telephone System (PTS) to make calls.

An offender may make a telephone call not connected with the PTS in an emergency situation or for compassionate reasons where, for example, a death or serious injury in the family and, in the opinion of the manager or the out-of-hours supervisor, it is necessary for the offender to urgently contact a family member.

Examples of situations where it may be appropriate for such calls to be approved include, but are not limited to, the death or serious illness of a family member, an offender has been subject to an involuntary transfer and it is considered appropriate for the offender to make contact with his/her support network, or for an offender who is subject to at-risk (self harm/suicide) management strategies.

All calls made under these circumstances must be made on a speaker phone and take place in a controlled environment. The person authorising the telephone call must monitor the call and complete an Intelligence Note on IOMS outlining the circumstances of the call and providing a summary of the call content. In the absence of access to IOMS, the details must be given to the Intelligence Officer to facilitate the production of an Intelligence Note.

3.1 Enrolling on the PTS

Offenders enrolling on the PTS must submit a written application listing a maximum of 10 telephone numbers to be included on an auto dial list. The names and address of persons to be called and the relationship to the offender must be indicated on the application. Each private number submitted by an offender must be checked and verified. This includes, in particular-

  1. the details provided by the offender;
  2. that the person listed is prepared to receive calls from the offender; and
  3. that no category listed in section 3.2 of this procedure is included on the list.

Following verification, all details must be correctly entered on the ARUNTA Controlled Telephone System database in the following format-

SURNAME, First name (eg. BLOGGS, John)

Any uncertainty in the details must be checked to guarantee correct and valid details are recorded.

If any of the following categories are listed on an offender's application, the particulars must be verified and the contact officer listed must confirm that the officer is prepared to receive calls from the offender-

  1. law enforcement agency;
  2. the Ombudsman; or
  3. any similar type of agency.

If the number of an officer of a law enforcement agency is listed on an offender's application, approval must be sought from the Manager, Queensland Corrective Services Intelligence Group (QCSIG). The Manager QCSIG must liaise with the relevant law enforcement agency and verify appropriateness prior to the number being added to the offender's auto dial list.

If the number of the offender's lawyer is listed on an offender's application the following process must occur-

  1. the offender must complete Part A of administrative form - Offender Telephone System Access Request (Legal Practitioner);
  2. the form must be faxed to the offender's lawyer to certify that they act for the offender in a legal capacity and acknowledge the provision of CSA s. 50(5) by completing and returning Part B of the form; and
  3. on return of the signed form, contact details must be verified to ensure they meet the criteria of a Legal Practitioner as defined by the Legal Profession Act 2007; and
  4. part C of the form must be approved by an authorised corrective services officer following which the number may be added to the offender's auto dial list. Previous legal representatives numbers must be removed; or
  5. The lawyer/solicitor must be registered as a legal practitioner on the Queensland Law Society website available at http://www.qls.com.au/.

The approval of PTS numbers must comply with the CSA s. 50.

An offender must not apply for approval or list the telephone number of any person for the purpose of an interview being conducted by that person or another person with the offender. Refer CSA s. 132

3.2 Prohibited telephone numbers

Numbers that must not be listed on an offender's application-

  1. a TAB or any gaming agency;
  2. a Government Agency (other than an approved service agency or a law enforcement agency as approved by the Manager, QCSIG as outlined in section 3.1 of this procedure);
  3. an information service (eg. services with numbers commencing with the digits 0055, 1800, 1900);
  4. an official visitor;
  5. a paging service;
  6. another corrective services facility (unless approved); or
  7. a probation and parole office (unless approved).

3.3 Offender access

The general manager of a facility may determine-

  1. periods during which the PTS is used for offender phone calls; and
  2. the time limit and frequency of phone calls made on the PTS.

Refer - CSA s. 50(3)

All offenders may have reasonable access to offender telephones with no limitations other than for disciplinary reasons or in the event of industrial action, riot, general unrest or for the good order and security of the facility.

Facility routines, including requirements for an offender's attendance at a workplace, program or other activity, have precedence over the offender's use of the PTS. However an offender may be granted permission to make a phone call on the PTS by the officer responsible for the routine, workplace, programme or other activity.

3.4 Community accounts

Each facility shall have a generic list of community accounts that are approved and shown in section 3 of the Prisoner Telephone Systems Operations Manual (in-confidence). Each facility may approve additional Community numbers as required by their unique offender population.

3.5 Diverting telephone calls

Refer CSA s. 50(5)

If call diversion to a non-approved person is evident then the relevant number must be removed from the auto dial list.

3.6 Recorded message preceding PTS calls

A recorded message advising that telephone call may be recorded or monitored must be played at the commencement of all calls. The message must be recorded as specified in sections 7.1 and 7.2 of the Prisoner Telephone Systems Operations Manual (in-confidence).

3.7 Recording telephone calls

Private calls made on the PTS must be recorded on the system's dedicated recording facility. Calls that have been tagged for security or management purposes, or those referring to matters likely to be subject to enquiry or investigation, may be re-recorded for subsequent monitoring.

Refer CSA s. 52

3.8 Monitoring telephone calls

Offender telephone calls must be monitored within the provisions of CSA s. 52. Tagged and alarmed calls should, if possible, be monitored live. Tagged and alarmed calls that can not be monitored live must be monitored from the recording as soon as practicable.

Refer - Instrument of Delegation of Chief Executive Powers - Corrective Services Act 2006 (in-confidence)

3.9 Archiving PTS records

QCSIG is responsible for the management of PTS digital tapes and the purchase and distribution of tapes to facilities. When the tapes are full they must be returned to QCSIG for archiving.

Law enforcement agencies or other authorised persons requiring access to PTS recordings should make application to the Manager, QCSIG by email: IntelInfo@dcs.qld.gov.au.

PTS tapes are held indefinitely in accordance with Queensland State Archives Disposal Authority QDAN 483 which states:

Audio footage of telephone calls between offenders and members of the public containing material that is required for investigative purposes is to be retained for 12 months after finalisation of investigative process or court process or appeals processes, whichever is the later.

All digital technology used in the PTS recording process and recorded conversations must be stored with QCSIG in a secure location in the event they are required for investigative purposes.

Refer- Public Records Act 2002 and Queensland State Archives Disposal Authority QDAN 483

3.10 Officer initiated call

In certain circumstances a Level 2 approved operator may place a telephone call on behalf of an offender. Refer to the Prisoner Telephone Systems Operations Manual (in-confidence).

All officer initiated calls must be made on the PTS and recorded. The offender's identification number must be recorded on the Call Activity Report.

Any authorised corrective services officer who has the authority to initiate a call on the PTS must have their own logon number and PIN. The PIN should be regularly changed, at intervals of not less than one month, to ensure officer initiated calls are not misused.

Any officer initiating a call must submit an intelligence note on IOMS detailing the reason for the officer initiated call and call details.

3.11 Obligations under the agreement with ComSecTR

The general manager or nominee of a facility must ensure ComSecTR is notified of any-

  1. defect or failure of the PTS or part of it;
  2. vandalism/damage caused to PTS equipment; and
  3. measures taken in response to offender unrest, staff industrial action or similar event, where offender access to the PTS is reduced and reduction in telephone revenue for Telstra is likely.

4. Costing calls

QCS will reimburse all facilities for the cost of calls made on community accounts, provided the calls are made during the periods accounts are accessible to offenders.

Legal call costs are debited to the offender's account.

Offender initiated call costs may be debited to the offender by the system's accounting process.

Officer initiated call costs may be debited against the offender or against the operator's account by the system's accounting process.

Private calls must be recorded, may be monitored and costs debited to the offender.

5. Personal video-conference calls

5.1 General

Refer CSA s. 51

Access to video-conference calls may be approved by the general manager for the purposes of helping approved offenders maintain relationships with family members who would otherwise be required to travel long distances to visit the offender. For example, access may be granted to assist in the maintenance of family relationships and address the special needs of Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islander offenders.

Offenders may also make video-conference calls to other approved offenders. Refer procedure - Inter-facility Prisoner Contact. If access is granted, approved offenders are only permitted to may make video-conference calls from QCS video-conferencing equipment.

This procedure does not apply to video-conferencing with courts. Video-conferencing for court purposes must be in accordance with District Court of Queensland Act 1967; Supreme Court of Queensland Act 1991; and Justices Act 1886.

Refer procedure - Video Conferencing by Offenders for Court Appearances and Legal Advice

5.2 Approved community video-conference sites

Contact through video-conferencing should be conducted using only community sites approved by QCS. Applications to register a community site must be directed to the chief executive for consideration. QCS will maintain a list of approved community sites (refer Videoconferencing Site Directory), along with any agreements negotiated between QCS and the community site. Agreements must include any conditions imposed upon the sites, along with any cost negotiations.

5.3 Application for video-conference call

Offenders wishing to use a facility's video-conferencing technology must submit a written application, listing the names and dates of birth of all persons to be called.

Refer administrative form - Application for a Family Video-conference

Family video-conferences are only to be conducted during business hours and are subject to operational priorities.

If an offender initiates a request for a family video-conference, the request must be made in writing to the contact officer at the corrective services facility. The request must be placed upon the offender's Professional Management and Case Management files. The contact officer should then contact the nominated family member/s and forward administrative form - Application for a Family Video-conference for the family member/s to complete.

Where a family member initiates the request, and the offender agrees to accept the call, the family member and all other participants must complete and return administrative form - Application for a Family Video-conference. The form is available from the facility or the QCS internet site.

Where an application for a family videoconference includes details of a child, the child is not required to complete a separate application. However, the applicant must complete the relevant details concerning the child as required in administrative form - Application for a Family Video-conference. All applications to call offenders, made by or on behalf of children under the age of 18 years must be approved by the general manager. Approval must only be granted if the call is assessed as being in the child's best interests.

Refer - CSA s. 166

Any person applying for participation in a video-conference call under a false identity or who knowingly provides false information in administrative form - Application for a Family Video-conference commits an offence under CSA s. 134.

5.4 Approval

An application to contact an offender via family video-conferencing may be approved by the general manager.

The general manager must consider the following before approving a video-conference call instead of a telephone call-

  1. video-conference technology is available for use in the facility where the offender is accommodated;
  2. whether the offender's family is unable to visit because of their remoteness from where the offender is accommodated; and
  3. whether the safety and security of the corrective services facility would be put at risk.

Where approval for a video-conference is granted, the offender must be informed of the date, time, and family members approved to be present. The family members must also be notified and advised of the location of the approved community site for the video-conference.

If an offender is transferred to another facility before an approved video-conference occurs, the general manager of the receiving facility must determine whether the video-conference will proceed at the receiving facility.

All completed application forms should be retained on the offender's Offender Management file.

5.5 Duration

As a guide, the duration of a family video-conference should be no longer than 15 minutes per offender per month to ensure equitable access for all offenders. Extended or additional contact may be approved by the general manager, subject to operational limitations.

5.6 Payment for video-conferencing calls

The general manager may pay for a video-conference call if it is considered there is sufficient reason to do so, for example, if the offender has insufficient funds to pay for the call.

The facility initiating the call will pay costs at the facility. The family or offender must meet the costs of any charge imposed by the approved community site.

5.7 Bookings

All contact with an offender via a video-conference must be booked in advance. Applicants for family video-conferencing must be advised of the dress and behaviour requirements of the facility at the time the booking is made (refer appendix - Appropriate Dress Standards). They should also be advised that they may be asked for identification when they report to the approved community site to receive the call.

Any person wishing to initiate a video-conference must contact the corrective services facility during business hours to book the video-conference. The general manager may make provisions for permanent bookings.

5.8 Recording or monitoring of video-conference calls

At the commencement of the family video-conference call, offenders and family members must be advised that the video-conference may be recorded or monitored in accordance with CSA s. 52.

Refer procedure - Storage and Disposal of Audio and Video Recordings Used for Monitoring Purposes

5.9 Termination of video-conference calls

Video-conference calls may be terminated for reasons including, but not limited to-

  1. if any doubt exists about the identity of any person attending the video-conference;
  2. if an officer reasonably considers the content of the video-conference constitutes a threat to the security or good order of the corrective services facility;
  3. if the offender or any other party involved in the video-conference fails to comply with any direction regarding dress standards or behaviour; or
  4. any other reason in accordance with CSA s. 52(4).



KELVIN ANDERSON
Commissioner





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