Issued: Monday 3 July 2017
One of the Southern Hemisphere’s largest correctional centres will tomorrow mark 20 years of operation in Western Sydney.
The Metropolitan Remand and Reception Centre at Silverwater opened its tightly-locked doors on 4 July 1997 and since then has become the country’s largest prison, with more than 300 staff processing around 18,000 offenders each year.
Commissioner Peter Severin said the 20-year anniversary was an important milestone in the history of Corrective Services NSW and a good opportunity to recognise the important contribution staff make to the security and good order of the centre.
“When the MRRC opened in 1997 it set the new standard for best practice in the administration of corrections in NSW, if not Australia,” Mr Severin said.
“The facility was designed to assist and support staff in carrying out their duties, while also ensuring they were preserving security and preserving life.
“The MRRC also heralded in a new era of technology in the NSW prison system as it was equipped with state of the art security systems.
“These systems combined with our hard-working and dedicated staff continue to ensure that the MRRC remains one of the best prisons in the country.”
MRRC Governor Tom Woods manages the centre’s 1,179 inmates and 322 staff – 50 of whom were there on 4 July 1997 - and said it was exciting to reach the two-decade milestone.
“It’s an incredibly busy centre, and the staff are so important in maintaining the necessary drive to keep on top of things like hygiene, painting, refurbishment and effective use of resources,” Mr Woods said.
Senior Correctional Officer Ian McLuckie works at MRRC and was one of the officers on duty when the first inmates arrived 20 years ago.
“They were all low-risk young offenders and we mustered them in the sterile zone, just inside the gate,” Mr McLuckie said.
“They were sent to work with contractors in the centre and some actually gained employment with these contractors after their release.
“In the early days we had to search the centre for contraband at intervals during the day and I remember finding an electrician that had accidentally locked himself in a segregation cell in Darcy Unit. He’d been there for hours when I found him.”