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Procedure Properties

Title: Sexual Assault
Category: Offender Management
Version: 03
Implement Date: 15 August 2008
Application: Custodial Operations
Availability: Public


Appendices and Forms


Performance Measures

  • Assault rate (Major) Prisoner on prisoner (high / low)

Procedure - Sexual Assault

4.Incident management
4.1Medical response
4.2Psychological support
5.Management of alleged perpetrators of sexual assault
6.Management of perpetrators of sexual assault
7.Intensive management plan


To provide for the appropriate management of prisoners in the prevention of and management of incidents of sexual assault and attempted sexual assault in corrective services facilities.

1. Process

Queensland Corrective Services (QCS) has a duty of care to provide a safe environment for prisoners in the correctional system. All staff involved in the management of prisoners must understand their roles and professional accountabilities in regard to the prevention and management of sexual assault within the correctional environment.

Staff must have an awareness of-

  1. sexual assault prevention strategies;
  2. high-risk periods (eg early reception);
  3. where and when opportunistic sexual assault may occur (eg places of communal interaction such as exercise yards);
  4. the indicators of sexual assault in victims (eg “acting out” in some way, withdrawal); and
  5. the characteristics of perpetrators of sexual assault (eg exercising of power, previously been a victim, anger).

A prisoner must be encouraged to be involved as much as possible in his/her management within the correctional environment.

If an officer detects any overt signs of prisoner vulnerability to sexual assault, the officer must immediately report his/her suspicions to the unit manager.

All actions must be handled in such a way as to ensure the privacy and safety of victims and witnesses.

2. Reception

Refer procedures - Admission; Assessment; Transfer of Offenders

On reception to a facility, a prisoner if alleged to have been previously sexually assaulted in a correctional environment or who may be at an increased risk of sexual assault (eg because of age, disability (physical or intellectual), first period of incarceration) must be assessed to provide for identification, safe placement and monitoring.

Following a prisoner's transfer into a corrective services facility -

  1. a review of that prisoner's correctional history, including the Offender File and IOMS profile, must immediately be undertaken by a sentence management officer to determine if any past history of sexual assault or victimisation has been recorded during the present or previous periods of incarceration;
  2. when determining cell allocation, any victim and alleged perpetrator must not be placed in close proximity;
  3. the centre intel officer should be contacted to check QCSIG intelligence reports; and
  4. a review of all current files and IOMS should be completed as soon as practicable to identify alleged perpetrators of sexual assault.

If information is available that the prisoner has previously engaged in sexually assault behaviour, either on the basis of convictions or documented allegations, consideration should be given to the development of an intensive management plan (refer procedure - Intensive Management). Under no circumstances is an alleged sexual perpetrator to be “doubled up” with another prisoner.

Following admission or transfer of a prisoner into a corrective services facility, health services reception procedures must include a review of the prisoner's medical file at the earliest opportunity (including the Medical-In-Confidence form - refer IOMS) to determine whether a history of sexual assault has been recorded (refer procedure - Initial Receptions into Custody). Queensland Health centre staff must encourage self-reporting of previous incidents of sexual assault both within the correctional system and prior to this period of incarceration.

If there is indication of a previous/recent sexual assault, the assessing Queensland Health centre staff must immediately report this information to the Sentence Management Co-ordinator for consideration of that prisoner's placement within the facility and referral to psychological and counselling services.

If a prisoner is assessed as being vulnerable to sexual victimisation, a system of support and monitoring (which if appropriate may include routine surveillance or counselling) must be instigated.

3. Induction

Refer procedure - Induction

The induction of prisoners into the correctional system and into all secure and open custody corrective services facilities should be designed to assist in reducing the incidence of sexual assault. This process should include providing information to assist prisoners in preventing and avoiding sexual assault. This should take place within two days of initial admission into the correctional system and within seven days of a transfer admission into a facility.

As part of the induction process all prisoners should be -

  1. informed that sexual assault may occur in prison;
  2. provided with information on strategies to assist in avoiding sexual assault;
  3. provided with information on the prevention and avoidance of sexual assault in prison, including information that threat of sexual assault may be used as a power game by prisoners;
  4. informed of the right to request a transfer or apply for protection at any stage if concerned about or at risk of sexual assault (refer procedures - Transfer of Offenders, Protection);
  5. informed that it is the duty of corrective services officers to report any information about the commission of an offence;
  6. informed that any and all staff may be approached for assistance;
  7. informed that it is the prisoner's right to report instances of, or threats of, sexual victimisation or assault;
  8. informed that prisoners will be supported in their decision to report sexual assault;
  9. informed of the process for initiating a complaint; and
  10. informed of actions to be taken against sexual perpetrators, including an immediate review of placement, access to Leave of Absence programs and community based options.

Notices should also be clearly displayed in corrective services facilities to raise prisoners' awareness in relation to sexual assault and advise that prisoner's decisions to report incidents of sexual victimisation for their own safety or the safety of others will be supported.

4. Incident management

For all operational responses to allegations of sexual assault, refer procedure - First Officer Response - Medical and Assault. All incidences of sexual assault and attempted sexual assault must be reported to the Corrective Services Investigation Unit for determination (refer Corrective Services Act 2006 s 113).

Following an allegation of sexual assault, the general manager or nominee must-

  1. provide a prompt and effective process for dealing with the complaint;
  2. sensitively address the alleged victim's needs;
  3. develop a management plan for the alleged victim;
  4. develop a management plan for the alleged perpetrator of the sexual assault incorporating a degree of supervision appropriate to the circumstances;
  5. report the matter to the Corrective Services Investigation Unit for determination;
  6. ensure the collection and safeguarding of evidence to assist in any future prosecution (refer procedure - Preservation of a Crime Scene and Evidence); and
  7. meet QCS' reporting and notification requirements.

Operational response must ensure safe placement, on-going monitoring and an adequate social support system for the victim and any witnesses (including staff and prisoners), including liaison with the assessing psychologist. These decisions should be made in consultation with the victim.

All prisoners within the unit must be assessed and if necessary counselled and referred to a psychiatrist.

4.1 Medical response

Prompt medical intervention must be provided for all prisoners who allege sexual assault to ensure comprehensive medical assessment (eg injuries, screening for infectious diseases) and treatment requirements are met (refer procedure - Assault).

Agreement and informed consent must be obtained from the alleged victim following sexual assault before medical or forensic examination or follow-up commences. The detail of a refusal to proceed with medical and/or forensic examination must be documented on the prisoner's Queensland Health medical record (refer procedure - Consent).

Timing is an important consideration in obtaining consent. If a prisoner chooses not to proceed with a medical examination and does not provide informed consent, it must be explained to the prisoner that medical specimens may not be obtainable at a later date, and if charges are to be laid, then vital forensic evidence may be lost if not collected immediately. Specimens can be taken and kept while the prisoner decides whether to proceed with legal redress.

If the prisoner wishes to pursue charges and consents to a forensic examination, the matter should be referred immediately to a government medical officer.

Forensic examination of the alleged victim must be undertaken according to standard protocols to ensure preservation of evidence for prosecution purposes.

4.2 Psychological support

Any prisoner who makes an allegation of sexual assault must be referred to a Senior Psychologist/Psychologist immediately (or to external services if outside business hours).

The perpetrator / alleged perpetrator of a sexual assault must also be referred to a psychologist to assess his/her risk of self-harm (refer procedure - At-Risk Management (Self Harm/Suicide)).

Decisions regarding placement and monitoring of the prisoner who alleges a sexual assault must be made in consultation with the assessing psychologist. Adequate social support must be provided for the victim and any witnesses following an alleged assault. In consultation with the prisoner, consideration should be given to providing a support person and/or arranging contact with family or a nominated contact person. The support person must not be seen as part of the Risk Management strategy, but simply as extra support.

The psychologist must-

  1. make an initial assessment, including an at risk assessment (refer procedures - At-Risk Management (Self Harm/Suicide); Assessment);
  2. assess any witnesses;
  3. assess the prisoner's level of post-assault trauma;
  4. with the prisoner's consent, immediately implement a debriefing and treatment plan;
  5. advise the relevant manager (during business hours) or the Duty Manager (out of business hours) of the outcome of this assessment along with recommendations in respect of placement and monitoring requirements for the prisoner alleging sexual assault; and
  6. liaise with Queensland Health centre staff located in the facility to ensure an ongoing multi-disciplinary team approach to the follow-up treatment plan for the prisoner.

4.3 Placement

An immediate review of the placement of the victim, any witnesses and the alleged perpetrator of a sexual assault must occur to ensure the safety of prisoners. Transfer to another facility may be considered as an option.

If a sexual assault has been reported and concerns for personal safety are indicated by the victim and/or correctional staff and/or Queensland Health staff and both the victim and alleged perpetrator are domiciled at the same facility, these prisoners must not be placed in the same accommodation area.

5. Management of alleged perpetrators of sexual assault

An alleged perpetrator of sexual assault is defined for the purposes of this procedure as a person who is known to have been the subject of allegations of sexual assault.

Subsequent to an initial follow-up of a complaint, the alleged perpetrator's placement must be reviewed to ensure that the prisoner does not have access to the victim or pose a threat to any other prisoners.

If possible, after the victim and alleged perpetrator have been accommodated safely, the alleged perpetrator should be notified of the complaint.

If assessed as necessary, further strategies can include-

  1. documenting any concerns raised by staff or prisoners;
  2. warning the alleged perpetrator regarding the observed behaviours and the consequences;
  3. behaviour monitoring, including restriction of unsupervised movement;
  4. development of an intensive management plan; and
  5. placement in segregated accommodation.

If an alleged perpetrator has been the subject of a proven complaint, an Intensive Management Plan must be developed to ensure that the prisoner is closely supervised (refer procedure - Intensive Management).

6. Management of perpetrators of sexual assault

A perpetrator of sexual assault is defined for the purposes of this procedure as a person who has been convicted of sexual assault.

For a perpetrator of sexual assault-

  1. counselling must be offered; and
  2. an Intensive Management Plan may be developed.

7. Intensive management plan

Refer procedure - Intensive Management

The Intensive Management Plan must be developed in consultation with staff responsible for the prisoner's supervision and must include but not be limited to the Accommodation Manager, Correctional Supervisor, Psychologist and Case Officer.

The management plan of a perpetrator of sexual assault may include but is not limited to-

  1. documentation of the incident;
  2. notification of incident to relevant staff;
  3. restriction of unsupervised movement;
  4. restricted access to prisoners and prisoner cells;
  5. change of accommodation within facility;
  6. recommendation for transfer or alternate placement;
  7. assessment and if appropriate referral to a relevant program for sexual offending prisoners; and
  8. if the prisoner cannot be managed within the mainstream correctional environment, referral to the Maximum Security Unit (refer procedure - Maximum Security Units (in-confidence)).

8. Reporting

Refer procedure - Incident Reporting

All incidents of sexual assault must be recorded in an incident report on IOMS and a copy of the report placed on the offender file of both the alleged perpetrator and the alleged victim of the assault.

The incident report must include-

  1. date of reported incident;
  2. brief details outlining the circumstances of the incident;
  3. age of victim;
  4. age of the assailant;
  5. ethnicity of the victim;
  6. ethnicity of the assailant;
  7. actions taken by staff in relation to the allegation/incident;
  8. whether a police complaint was initiated; and
  9. results of police investigation / complaint.

Neil Whittaker
Acting Director-General

Version History

15/08/2008 Version 03 - 28/08/2006 Version 02 - 06/10/2004 Version 01