Last updated 2 September 2019

Lawful orders

Section 20 of the Corrective Services Act 2006 (Qld) (Corrective Services Act) provides that a prison officer may give a person a direction that the officer reasonably believes to be necessary:

  • for the welfare or safe custody of the prisoner or other prisoners
  • for the security or good order of a prison
  • to ensure that the prisoner complies with an order
  • to ensure a prisoner attends to enable a DNA sample to be taken under the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act 2000 (Qld)
  • to ensure that the prisoner does not commit an offence or a breach of discipline.

A person may incur a breach of discipline for disobeying a lawful order of a prison officer.

Force and lethal force

A prison officer is also authorised to use the force, other than lethal force, that is reasonably necessary to:

  • compel compliance with an order given or applying to a prisoner
  • restrain a prisoner who is attempting or preparing to commit an offence or a breach of discipline
  • compel any person who has been lawfully ordered to leave a corrective services facility and who refuses to do so
  • restrain a prisoner who is attempting or preparing to harm themselves or others.

However, force should not be used unless the officer reasonably believes that there is no other way to compel or prevent a person from the conduct mentioned. The officer is required to issue a clear warning of the intention to use force and sufficient time for the person to comply. The use of force may involve the use of a gas gun, a chemical agent, riot control equipment, restraining devices or a corrective services dog.

Prison officers are trained in the use of lethal force and can use it in a range of circumstances but must cause the least possible risk of injury to anyone other than the person against whom it is to be used.

Section 146 of the Corrective Services Act provides that an officer may use the lethal force that is reasonably necessary to stop a prisoner from:

  • escaping or attempting to escape from secure custody
  • helping or attempting to help a prisoner escape from secure custody
  • assaulting or attempting to assault another person who has escaped from secure custody in an immediate response to a prisoner.

In each of these circumstances, lethal force can only be used if the officer reasonably suspects that the person is likely to cause grievous bodily harm to or the death of someone other than the prisoner.