XY and Department of Corrective Services
XY and Queensland Corrective Services
(2005 F0667, 19 December 2006)
The applicant sought access to audio intercom recordings of the Maximum Security Unit (MSU) within the Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre (AGCC) and a VHS tape that the applicant submitted was taken out of his property and seized by the AGCC Intelligence Unit. The applicant applied for external review when no decision on the initial access application had been made by Queensland Corrective Services’ (QCS) within the statutory timeframes, and accordingly a deemed decision to refuse access was taken to have been made.
s.44(1) – Shared personal affairs
With respect to the audio intercom recordings, QCS objected to the disclosure of them to the applicant under s.44(1) of the FOI Act on the grounds that they involved shared personal affairs of the applicant and other prisoners of the MSU which cannot be severed.
Assistant Commissioner Corby referred to the earlier decision of XY and Department of Corrective Services (2005 F0615, 23 October 2006) and relied on Stewart and Department of Transport (1993) QAR 227 in finding that information concerning what happens to a prisoner while in prison concerns the “personal affairs” of a prisoner. AC Corby also found that the shared personal affairs of other prisoners could not be severed and as such the recordings were prima facie exempt from disclosure under s.44(1).
AC Corby was satisfied that public interest considerations favouring disclosure were insufficient to outweigh the public interest considerations against disclosure of the recordings and as such found the recordings were exempt from disclosure under s.44(1).
Sufficiency of search
With respect to the VHS tape that the applicant said was taken out of the his property and seized by the AGCC Intelligence Unit, QCS provided a statutory declaration attesting that the tape could not be located and had most likely been destroyed or taped over in accordance with AGCC’s rotational recording process developed pursuant to a disposal authority, approved by Queensland State Archives. AC Corby found that in light of the statutory declaration provided and the fact that there was no evidence to the contrary, no reasonable grounds existed to believe that the recordings were in the possession or under the control of DCS. AC Corby also found that the searches conducted by QCS were reasonable in the circumstances of the review.
This decision was subject to judicial review by the Supreme Court of Queensland.