Prison officers flown in to ease staff shortage in city

TEN prison officers will be flown down from Far North Queensland on Friday to provide relief staffing at Townsville Correctional Centre.

The centre was put into lockdown at the start of the unprecedented weather event, after local staff were cut off by floodwaters and unable to attend work.

A Queensland Corrective Services spokeswoman said more than 40 of Townsville's 500 prison staff have been affected by flooding.

The ten officers from Lotus Glen Correctional Centre will provide relief staffing for a week before being replaced by a fresh crew from Capricornia Correctional Centre in Rockhampton.

Townsville Correctional Centre is currently housing about 1000 prisoners across its four facilities.

"Townsville Correctional Centre employs more than 500 officers with more than 40 officers significantly affected by the flooding, with many more unable to access the centre due to road closures," the spokeswoman said.

"Queensland Corrective Services also has about 60 officers working in community corrections, working with offenders in the community in the Townsville district

Commissioner Peter Martin will visit Townsville Correctional Centre on Friday to thank prison officers for maintaining the complex during the natural disaster.

"Of course, the nature of our business means we cannot simply shut our doors when disaster strikes, especially one of a prolonged nature such as this, and I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to keeping the community safe by ensuring the smooth operation of the Townsville Correctional Complex and community corrections offices during this time," he said.

"Sadly we know that a number of our officers have personally experienced significant loss, with houses inundated and property lost. We are undertaking welfare checks with all staff, and so far more than 20 have experienced inundation and significant property loss."

"My thoughts are with them at this difficult time. As a department, we are looking at how we can best support impacted staff in coming days and weeks."