CCTV cameras captured Mr Kaliszewski away from his work station. Picture: Stock image
CCTV cameras captured Mr Kaliszewski away from his work station. Picture: Stock image

Prison guard caught mooching on CCTV

A SENIOR prison guard busted resting on the job has failed to overturn a demotion claiming the prison investigation that caught him out breached his privacy.

Steven Kaliszewski should have been keeping an eye on prisoners at Ararat's Hopkins Correctional Centre, but instead he spent "excessive periods of time" in a staff break room.

He was demoted from senior prison guard, to prison guard, after an investigation uncovered CCTV footage of him taking it easy instead of monitoring criminals.

However in an appeal at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal Mr Kaliszewski claimed authorities breached his privacy through an "unauthorised use of surveillance".

Footage from CCTV cameras showed he was absent from his work station and was in the staff break room for excessive periods during three night shifts in January 2017.

Mr Kaliszewski claimed that a supervisor with a vendetta had set him up.

 

Hopkins Correctional Centre in Ararat.
Hopkins Correctional Centre in Ararat.

 

He said the supervisor had not been on duty with him but had viewed the CCTV after the event, "in the hope of catching (me) doing anything that he could use adversely to affect (my) career".

He argued the viewing of CCTV by his superiors was not for any law enforcement reason or to investigate a prison incident, and that he "had a reasonable expectation of privacy whilst moving around this private and secure part of the prison".

Mr Kaliszewski denied that he had breached the security of the prison because "after hours, the prison, including the gate house foyer is locked up".

He said his obligation was to be "alert and vigilant", but other than that could be where he pleased during his shift.

Hopkins Correctional Facility general manager Scott Jacques denied any wrongdoing by prison officials.

"CCTV is used to ensure the good order and security of Victorian prisons," he said.

"One important function of CCTV is to assist with the investigation of incidents, whether these involve prisoners, prison officers, other staff or visitors.

 

Prison bosses said Kaliszewski should have been checking on prisoners.
Prison bosses said Kaliszewski should have been checking on prisoners.

 

"If an allegation of misconduct is made against a prison officer, it is standard practice for the CCTV to be reviewed. This is well known amongst prison officers because of the frequency with which this occurs."

Mr Jacques said there were hundreds of clearly visible CCTV cameras installed in both public and secure areas of the prison.

"All prison officers are fully aware that there are CCTV cameras in every area of the prison," he said.

VCAT heard Mr Kaliszewski had been the subject of two previous misconduct allegations and was aware CCTV footage had been examined to investigate complaints made against him on those occasions.

"Prison officer wield significant powers over the prisoners in their care and CCTV is absolutely necessary to make sure their power is not abused," Mr Jacques said.

"Prison officers also work alone unsupervised at night and, similarly CCTV is absolutely necessary to make sure the trust placed in them is not abused.''

Mr Kaliszewski had hoped for a written apology, to have his senior role reinstated and called for Corrections Victoria to publish a document advising staff that CCTV footage is being used to monitor staff workplace performance, or alternatively for supervisors at Hopkins Correctional Centre to cease the practice of watching/following staff.

But VCAT member Brendan Hoysted dismissed his claim.

Mr Hoysted found there was no reason why CCTV footage collected could only be used where an incident had occurred.

shannon.deery@news.com.au


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