ACT News

Govt ramps up WorkSafe brothel inspections

The government ramped up the number of inspections on the territory’s brothels over the past year, and discovered safety problems such as a lack of ‘‘safe systems for sex toys’’ and the reuse of soiled sheets.

Authorities conducted 19 inspections of ACT brothels in the past financial year,  compared with  11  in 2011-12.

WorkSafe ACT issued 48 improvement notices to nine brothels, mainly for minor issues  such as  overloaded power points, incorrectly attached light fittings, poor housekeeping, trip hazards, and the lack of emergency evacuation plans.

But the inspections also uncovered problems in keeping safe systems for sex toys, a lack of drug and alcohol policies, and issues with the registration of dangerous substances.

Inspectors also found a lack of ‘‘inspection lamps’’ and that soiled bed linen had been re-used.

In one of the raids, police and immigration officials detained one female worker who was in breach of her tourist visa.

The number of active brothel and escort agency licences fell marginally  from 32 in mid-2012 to 30 in mid-2013.

The Justice and Community Safety report also shows that authorities conducted undercover stings on tobacco retailers, to test if they would sell cigarettes to the underaged. 

Government officials from the Office of Regulatory Services conducted compliance testing at 24 locations on three  occasions.

They used a ‘‘purchase assistant’’, or a trained youth, to attempt to buy cigarettes. Nine of the 24 tobacco sellers sold cigarettes to the underage purchase assistant. They  were referred to the Department of Public Prosecutions, who will decide whether they will be charged.

The JACS annual report also shows that the  number of detainees who were released and returned to corrective services on a fresh charge within two years increased from 40per cent in 2009-10 to 46 per cent in 2010-11.

The government attributes the  rise  to the increased level of supervision of offenders upon release, which it argues makes it easier for authorities to detect reoffending. 

The government also says that ACT Policing has had an increased focus on repeat offending in recent years, and that monitoring offenders is easier in a small jurisdiction  such as  the ACT.

Separate figures, also contained in the JACS report, show that the number of X18+ film retailers in the ACT is dwindling.

The number of licences and licence renewals more than halved from 16 in 2011-12, to seven in 2012-13.