Last updated 2 September 2019

The following visits are allowed (s 153 Corrective Services Act 2006 (Qld) (Corrective Services Act)):

  • one non-contact personal visitor once per week
  • legal visits as required
  • extra visits and contact visits can be approved.

In deciding applications for visitors, Queensland Corrective Services (QCS) must decide if the person would pose a risk to the prison, taking into account whether the visitor has escaped lawful custody, been convicted of helping another prisoner escape, committed an offence while visiting a prison or has been refused access to a prison previously. The usual procedure is that contact visits are approved once the visitor has been given a security clearance by police, which usually takes six to eight weeks. The Criminal Law (Rehabilitation of Offenders) Act 1986 (Qld) does not apply to the criminal history for visitors to prisons. Visitors are required to disclose all previous or pending charges prior to entry, regardless of whether the convictions are recorded or old (s 328 Corrective Services Act).

Most prisons now have an additional condition of entry that all visitors must supply a biometric scan of their fingerprints before entry.

The chief executive may keep a visitor’s biometric information given to a corrective services facility as proof of the visitor’s identity, and any data about the visitor’s biometric information stored in the biometric information system.

Extra visits may be allowed for children visiting their primary care giver, visits with an Aboriginal elder or where a family has travelled a long distance for the visit.

Personal visits may be monitored, and an audiovisual or visual recording of the visit can be made and retained (s 158 Corrective Services Act).

If a visitor is denied visits at a particular prison, they are entitled to apply to QCS for a review of the decision. If still unsatisfied, the visitor may make a complaint to the Ombudsman or take steps for a judicial review of the decision.

What visitors can bring

All gifts and other items must be approved by the prison and go through the prison reception staff where they are searched for contraband. Approval varies from prison to prison.

Certain things are prohibited in prison including drugs, money, escape implements, weapons, keys, electronic cards, identification papers, lighters, cigarettes, jewellery, recording equipment, mobile phones, mail, alcohol and cameras. It is a criminal offence to bring these items into the prison.

Searching visitors

Under s 159 of the Corrective Services Act, a prison officer may conduct a scanning search (e.g. by use of a magnetic wand waved over the body) of any visitor. Many prisons have walk-through metal detectors, and passive drug dogs or electronic drug detection equipment to detect illegal drugs.

A prison officer may also conduct a general search as well as a scanning search of any other visitor including a personal visitor who is to be given a contact visit. A general search means that the visitor may be required to reveal the contents of outer garments or hand luggage. The search is conducted without the prison officer touching the person or the luggage.

The general manager may revoke approval for the visit or the contact component if the visitor does not submit to a general search. A visitor who is refused access by the general manager is entitled to be given reasons for the refusal.

Prison officers cannot perform strip searches (personal searches) of visitors, but they can call police who may do so if they form the reasonable belief that a visitor may be concealing drugs or a weapon.