Offender still missing following ‘unacceptable’ electronic monitoring failure in South Australia


Updated

November 05, 2018 09:41:49

A man with a history of violence is still unaccounted for after an “unacceptable” failure of South Australia’s electronic bracelet monitoring system which has been blamed on a nationwide Telstra outage.

Key points:

  • SA’s Department of Corrections was unable to track 774 offenders for 24 hours
  • A nationwide Telstra outage has been blamed for the communication mishap
  • Telstra said it was dealing with a “complex issue” and was talking to the Government

Yesterday it was announced that hundreds of offenders had been left unmonitored for more than 24 hours in the state following the electronic failure and that one man was still missing.

The Department for Correctional Services in South Australia on Sunday confirmed the fault had left it unable to track 774 individuals who are monitored by electronic tracking devices.

The communication system went down from early on Friday morning and was back online at lunchtime on Saturday.

Robert Carl Stehr, 43, was granted home detention bail in Mt Gambier last Thursday and, as part of his conditions, travelled to Adelaide by bus and arrived in the city on Friday, November 2.

Numerous enquiries by police and the Department for Corrections have so far failed to locate him.

The job to locate Mr Stehr has now been handed over to police who are currently making enquiries to locate him as he may be breaching his bail.

Mr Stehr has been described as Caucasian, 175cm tall, with medium build, a broad nose, brown short hair and a brown and grey beard.

Police said he may also be wearing a black electronic monitoring device on his left ankle and he has been urged to contact police as soon as possible.

‘This is an unacceptable situation’

Premier Steven Marshall yesterday said a thorough investigation would be undertaken into why the outage occurred and how to prevent it happening in the future.

He said he was made aware of the outage on Friday and it was “unacceptable” from Telstra.

He said the State Government would be communicating with Telstra regarding the fault and the safety of South Australian people was extraordinarily important.

“This is a very serious breach, a very serious outage and there will be a full and thorough investigation,” he said.

“Clearly this is an unacceptable situation and clearly this is a situation that we cannot afford to occur in South Australia again.”

Corrections staff ‘pulled together’

The Public Service Association (PSA) said corrections staff had responded in the best way they could during the weekend’s nationwide Telstra outage.

Nev Kitchin from the PSA said it was an alarming event for staff, with many called in at the last minute to help address the problem.

“The department’s all pulled together, called people in off of their leave and put them on double shifts to make sure all the offenders in question were either being phoned or other attempts were being made to locate them,” he said.

He said while staff responded in the best way they could, a plan should be developed for future outages.

“On the one hand we’re trying to save money from having these offenders on home detention which then supposedly frees up beds in prison to save us money in the long run, but if we can’t rely on this technology then it’s simply not worthwhile.”

Telstra confirmed the “complex issue” via a statement on Sunday and said the company had been in ongoing contact with the State Government.

But Opposition spokesman Lee Odenwalder yesterday took aim at the current Government, highlighting another incident which occurred under its watch earlier this year.

“This comes shortly after an incident in May where the system went down for two hours … it shows that there’s a minister that’s in charge of the system here who is more interested doing other things … than in really looking after the safety of our people,” he said.

“On top of everything we now have a violent criminal on the loose as a result of this outage. This is unprecedented and we need the Government to get on top of this as quickly as possible.”

Topics:

law-crime-and-justice,

wireless-communication,

information-and-communication,

wireless-networking,

computers-and-technology,

police,

adelaide-5000,

sa,

mount-gambier-5290

First posted

November 05, 2018 08:09:46



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