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Procedure Properties

Title: Video-conferencing for prisoners
Category: Custodial Operations - Standard Operating Procedure
Version: 01
Implement Date: 13 July 2012
Application: Custodial Operations
Availability: Public

Authority

Appendices and Forms

Associated Custodial Operations Standard Operating Procedures

Local Procedures

QCSA Training Manual

Agency Procedure

Policies

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

Review Date: February 2016

Ownership: Custodial Operations

Custodial Operations Standard Operating Procedure - Video-conferencing for prisoners


Performance Standard
Authority
1.Procedure Requirements
2.Definitions
PART A - LEGAL ADVICE AND REPRESENTATION VIDEO CONFERENCING
3.Conduct of Videoconferencing for Legal Advice and Representation
PART B - COURT VIDEO CONFERENCING
4.Courts
5.Court Appointments and Video Court Operational Configuration
6.Prisoners Presentation and Appearance at a VCC
7.Duration
8.Termination of a Video Court Conference Call
PART C - FAMILY VIDEO CONFERENCING
9.Family Video-Conference Calls
9.1Approved community video-conference sites
9.2Application for video-conference call
9.3Approval
9.4Duration
9.5Payment for video-conferencing calls
9.6Bookings
9.7Recording or monitoring of video-conference calls
9.8Termination of video-conference calls

Performance Standard

A process is in place that provides for the management of prisoner access to video-conferencing technology. This is undertaken in accordance with-

Safety & Security - Our Principles

Refer - Safety and Security - Our Principles (in-confidence)

Chief Inspector Healthy Prisons 2007 -

Refer - Healthy Prisons Handbook

Standard Guidelines for Corrections in Australia - standards 1.17 access to legal representation, 3.19 - 3.34 Community Contact including Visits

Refer- Standard Guidelines for Corrections in Australia Revised 2004

Authority

Acts Interpretation Act 1954, s. 32DA

Corrective Services Act 2006, ss. 50, 51, 52, 132, 134, 166

District Court of Queensland Act 1967

Justices Act 1886

Legal Profession Act 2007

Marriage Act 1961 (Cth), s. 23B

Public Records Act 2002

Supreme Court of Queensland Act 1991

1. Procedure Requirements

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

  1. a video court centre (VCC) and video consultations with legal representatives.
  2. telephone calls to consult with legal representatives;
  3. court video conferencing;
  4. Legal Aid representative video conferencing; and
  5. video-conferencing for inter-prison or remote communities contact (if available at the facility).

2. Definitions

Family video conference (FVC) - means the system enabling visual contact by prisoners with family located in another corrective services facility or a remote community

Legal Calls - means telephone calls to numbers listed on the video court system as authorised legal numbers. Legal calls are to be made to the court where the prisoner will be appearing. Legal calls must not be recorded or monitored. Legal calls include calls to-

  1. a prisoners legal practitioner; or
  2. a person authorised in writing by the prisoner's legal practitioner to act for the legal practitioner.

Video Conferencing Technology (VCT) - means the system enabling visual contact between a prisoner and a court or legal representative.

Video Court Centre (VCC) - means the building that houses the equipment that allows video contact between a prisoner and a court.

Legal Aid Queensland (LAQ) - means the government funded organisation that represents prisoners who cannot fund their own defence.

PART A - LEGAL ADVICE AND REPRESENTATION VIDEO CONFERENCING

3. Conduct of Videoconferencing for Legal Advice and Representation

Utilisation of videoconferencing technology for the provision of legal advice and representation will be in accordance with this standard operating procedure and the following-

  1. videoconferencing between legal practitioners and their clients will not be subject to audio recording or be audible by third parties to maintain confidentially;
  2. video conferencing facilities must be booked in advance by the nominated LAQ Videoconferencing Booking Officer, who must contact the relevant centre liaison officer.

If Queensland Corrective Services (QCS) proposes the relocation of LAQ video conferencing equipment in any correctional centre, it will-

  1. notify LAQ of the proposed change in location;
  2. ensure the equipment can be connected to an ISDN line in the new location; and
  3. conditions in the new location are appropriate and suitable to the use of the equipment to deliver legal services.

PART B - COURT VIDEO CONFERENCING

4. 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

QCS in consultation with the Department of Justice and Attorney General and the courts will determine which courts and which booths within the VCC will operate as part of the video court system.

Refer appendix - Video Court Conferencing Protocols

5. Court Appointments and Video Court Operational Configuration

The general manager or nominee must-

  1. nominate an officer who is responsible for providing a list of prisoners required to attend the VCC. This list should detail the protection or mainstream status of each prisoner in addition to whether the prisoner has a status of ordinary or irrespective;
  2. ensure that the court list is provided to appropriate staff the day before an prisoner is to appear before the VCC, or by the Friday afternoon for the following Monday's appearance;
  3. establish a process that ensures a prisoners appearance when required for the VCC. This may include the list of prisoners required to attend that days VCC being read out to all staff as part of the morning brief;
  4. ensure separate waiting rooms are established for mainstream and protection prisoners;
  5. ensure a label designating which court/s will operate out of that particular booth is placed on the door of each video booth;
  6. ensure that when a protection prisoner enters a video booth, staff place a sign with the letter “P” on the booth door to ensure that all staff are aware that a protection prisoner is secured within that booth;
  7. ensure that video conferencing booths are allocated to courts and LAQ.

6. Prisoners Presentation and Appearance at a VCC

Prisoners must be secured in their respective video booth with a name plate clearly displayed in front of them for presentation to the court and to ensure that they are correctly identified. The name plates will be made up by staff from the VCC.

The following also applies-

  1. staff are to ensure that prisoners required for the video court are to attend the VCC 30 minutes prior to the appearance time;
  2. in relation to the Brisbane Arrest Courts, prisoners are to be available at the VCC 60 minutes before their court appearance to give instructions to the Legal Aid duty lawyer via video link. All other legal consultations between lawyers and prisoners should have occurred before the prisoners scheduled court date;
  3. video links between a Legal Aid lawyer and an prisoner are to take place in booths allocated for Legal Aid consultations where these are available;
  4. mainstream and protection prisoners are to be separated with a minimum of two barriers with barriers not to be opened simultaneously, refer standard operating procedure - Movement Control of Prisoners;
  5. movement of prisoners to and from the VCC must be coordinated through relevant movement controls.

The general manager or nominee must establish a process to manage the appearance of

a maximum security unit (MSU) prisoner before a video court. This may involve negotiations with the relevant court to schedule the appearance of a MSU prisoner at a time when no other prisoners will be present.

7. Duration

There is to be no set duration time stipulation for the conducting of the VCC process. The Magistrate or Justice will determine the time required for each prisoner. When a prisoner has been dealt with, court staff will advise VCC staff that the court matter has been completed whereupon the prisoner may be removed from the video booth.

There will be no lock down periods for staff working in the VCC. The supervisor responsible for that area is to ensure that the existing staff are covered during their required meal break periods and also for any designated lockdown training sessions.

8. Termination of a Video Court Conference Call

A video court conference call may be terminated for reasons including, but not limited to-

  1. if any doubt exists about the identity of any prisoner attending the VCC;
  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 an prisoner or any other party involved in the VCC fails to comply with any direction regarding dress standards or behaviour; or
  4. any other reason in accordance with Corrective Services Act 2006 s52(4).

PART C - FAMILY VIDEO CONFERENCING

9. Family Video-Conference Calls

Access to video-conference calls may be approved by the general manager for the purposes of helping approved prisoners maintain relationships with family members who would otherwise be required to travel long distances to visit the prisoner. 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 prisoners.

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

9.1 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 Commissioner for consideration. QCS will maintain a list of approved community sites (refer Videoconferencing Site Directory (in-confidence)), 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.

9.2 Application for video-conference call

Prisoners 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.

A prisoner must also state if they are a respondent of a current domestic violence order, protection order or restraining order where a family member nominated for the video-conference call is a subject of the order. Where this is identified, a copy of the order must be obtained and considered prior to approving the video-conferencing call. If an order contains a non-contact provision the video-conferencing call must not take place.

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 a prisoner 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 on the prisoner's Prisoner File. 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 prisoner agrees to accept the call, the family member and all other participants must complete and return administrative form - Application for a Family Video-conference. This form is available from the facility or the QCS internet site.

The family member must state if they are the subject of a current domestic violence order, protection order or restraining order where the prisoner is the respondent. If this is identified, a copy of the order must be provided and considered prior to the video-conferencing call taking place. If an order contains a non-contact provision the video-conferencing call must not take place.

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 prisoners, 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.

9.3 Approval

An application to contact a prisoner 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 prisoner is accommodated;
  2. whether the prisoner's family is unable to visit because of their remoteness from where the prisoner 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 prisoner 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 a prisoner 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 prisoner's Offender Management File.

9.4 Duration

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

9.5 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 prisoner has insufficient funds to pay for the call.

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

9.6 Bookings

All contact with a prisoner 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.

9.7 Recording or monitoring of video-conference calls

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

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

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

Endorsed by:

MARK RALLINGS

Acting Deputy Commissioner, Custodial Operations

Approved by:





MARLENE MORISON
Commissioner





Version History

13/07/2012 Version 01