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Canberra prisons watchdog announced

Canberra's corrections system will come under closer scrutiny after the ACT Government installed a new prison watchdog.

Neil McAllister was on Wednesday officially appointed as the territory's first Inspector of Correctional Services.

ACT Corrections Minister Shane Rattenbury said the announcement showed commitment to "transformational change" in the Alexander Maconochie Centre.

He said the establishment of an Inspector of Correctional Services would focus reform efforts, keep a steady eye on correctional facilities and services, and support the implementation of real change.

Mr McAllister has almost three decades of experience in corrections, and has conducted 100 investigations of critical incidents, including 28 deaths in custody.

He started in 1990 in policy and research roles and as an inspector for the Queensland Corrective Services Commission.

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He was later appointed national investigations manager for Australasian Correctional Management responsible for conducting investigations in correctional facilities and immigration detention centres in Queensland, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and New South Wales.

From 2002 to 2008, Mr McAllister worked in Victoria within the Office of Correctional Services Commissioner and as Principal Inspector in the Corrections Inspectorate which was independent of Corrections Victoria.

Since 2008, Mr McAllister has worked as a private consultant conducting major reviews in New South Wales and the Northern Territory, as well as two reviews in the ACT in 2011 and 2014.

The inspector will work with, but be distinct from, existing oversight mechanisms undertaken by the Human Rights Commission, ACT Ombudsman, Public Advocate and the Official Visitors program.

The position will have the power to conduct unannounced visits to correctional centres and court cells, and will also undertake comprehensive and systemic inspections of corrections system every two years, review critical incidents, and particular issues referred by the responsible Minister or Director-General.

The reports would then be sent to the Legislative Assembly.

Mr Rattenbury said the community expected improved governance, risk management strategies, health services and models of care for detainees so that they are safe and can successfully reintegrate into the community upon release.

The minister said the Inspector of Correctional Services would increase transparency and accountability, and deter mismanagement and unfairness.

"The ACT's Inspector of Correctional Facilities will have special powers to investigate critical incidents. I recognise Mr McAllister's broad knowledge in this area, having conducted more than 100 investigations of critical incidents, including 28 deaths in custody," Mr Rattenbury said.

Mr Rattenbury said, as minister, he was committed to transformational change at the Alexander Maconochie Centre "as a facility that is rapidly growing and adapting to many challenges which were not all predicted in its early days.

"The establishment of an Inspector of Correctional Services will focus our reform efforts, keep a steady eye on correctional facilities and services and support the implementation of real change.

"The Government is implementing the recommendations made in the Moss Review and continues to work to progress recommendations from a series of other reviews into operations and policies."