Police tactical response group officers were on standby today near Hakea Prison as part of a contingency plan to deal with the 24-hour strike by the State's prison officers.
The strike will delay court cases today and prevent prisoners from being transferred from court to prison.
Corrective Services director Ian Johnson said the TRG was present this morning in case it was decided that police should escort some high-risk criminals to court.
It was decided not to transport the prisoners, who remained locked in their cells because of the snap 24-hour strike.
Only skeleton staff are working at 13 public prisons across the State, staffing the perimeters of the facilities, but officers are not transporting prisoners to court.
As a result, half the scheduled court appearances are not going ahead, lawyer Jonathan Davies said.
While Mr Davies said cases of people not in custody had gone ahead, cases where the accused is in custody have been rescheduled.
“My cases came on a lot quicker than I thought because half of the business of the courts is not happening,” Mr Davies told ABC radio.
“The system has effectively been thrown into chaos and quite frankly the public of Western Australia needs to be really p****d off with it.
“Not because of what the prison officers are doing but because of the fact the Government is not treating people who work in the criminal justice system with fairness and equity.”
Mr Johnson, who found out about the strike last night, said some lunches had been pre-prepared for prisoners in previous days.
Medical staff would continue to work and public safety was not at risk, he said.
Addressing hundreds of prison officers at a picket line outside Hakea prison this morning, WA Prison Officers' Union secretary John Welch praised members for taking a stand.
He said everyone was reluctant to lose a day's pay but members were angry that nurses had received a three-year pay deal worth 14 per cent during the election period but the State Government had refused to budge on its nine per cent offer for prison officers.
The union is seeking a pay rise to match the 14 per cent increase given to nurses in a three-year deal this week.
Last night, Mr Welch said the strike would not affect public safety.
It would hold up court cases by preventing the transfer of prisoners between jails and courts and would disrupt prison operations such as visits.
“Prison officers have been in negotiations for months but the government has dragged its feet,” Mr Welch said this morning.
“West Australian prisons are overcrowded and dangerous. It’s time for the government to respect the risk prison officers take.”
Premier Colin Barnett refused on Wednesday to budge from the 9 per cent over three years he had offered the officers.
Mr Barnett refused to seal a deal with the union before the election despite having done so to prevent a strike by nurses.