Residents reeling as violent prisoners sneak past
A HANDFUL of residents living near the prison where two violent criminals escaped were reeling on Saturday morning over the fact they were not alerted to the escape by authorities.
Corrections issued a text message alert to many in Etna Creek, The Caves, Rockyview, and other areas just north of Rockhampton "be alert, be aware” and "monitor local media for more information”.
But some did not become aware of the escape until reading it on The Morning Bulletin website.
Livingstone Shire councillor Glenda Mather, who lives near the prison but knew nothing of the escape before The Morning Bulletin contacted her, said it was in the interest of Corrective Services and police to alert nearby residents.
"We are the eyes and ears of the prison system and the police force,” she said.
"They need us when we see something suspicious.”
Cr Mather said under the previous system used about nine years ago at the old Capricornia Correctional Centre, residents in the immediate vicinity were alerted by a siren.
"But they got rid of the siren, because I guess they expected there would be no more escapes,” she said.
Prison authorities then contacted about five residents by phone who then each contacted another five residents.
"So it was a system where the word would spread very quickly,” she said.
"If they don't have anybody waiting for them, they will be looking for clothes on the line, money, or looking for a car.
"They (residents) certainly mind if their children are safe. We don't know that a prisoner is out, let alone two people.”
Cr Mather said Corrective Services missed a window of opportunity to catch the escapees as they flee the prison.
She said typically prison guards search the prison for as long as an hour before alerting police or the public.
Cr Mather said despite an instance where nearby residents had been "seriously bashed” by violent escapees, residents were generally more concerned with helping authorities locate the prisoners.
"It gives too much opportunity and time for them to disappear before the public is notified,” she said.
"It gives them about half an hour to get where someone is waiting or to hide somewhere.”