The introduction of electronic monitoring of inmates at a minimum-security prison in the state’s north east has been plagued with problems, with Corrections Victoria loosing GPS contact with prisoners up to 70 times a day.
About 40 inmates have been fitted with the tracking bracelets, which are monitored from another prison near Ararat.
But signal failures between the two facilities have forced officers at Dhurringile to physically locate inmates, according to the union that represents prison staff.
Community and Public Sector Union officer Andrew Capp said flaws with the monitoring system posed a significant security concern and placed further strain on Victoria’s overburdened prison system.
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"The electronic monitoring is done from Corella Place in Ararat and they are ringing Dhurringile prison saying we’ve lost track of a prisoner. They’ll have to scurry around to find him, and it turns out he’s having a discussion with another prison officer. On average this is happening about 70 times a day," Mr Capp said.
He said the tracking of inmates and the recent introduction of 50 portable cells, converted from shipping containers, were "stop-gap measures" to accommodate the state’s burgeoning prison population.
In the past nine months, five inmates have escaped from the Dhurringile facility, including Matthew James Boland, who fled just hours before Acting Premier Peter Ryan and Corrections Minister Edward O’Donohue toured the facility in January.
Last weekend, inmates at Dhurringile stole a large consignment of cigarettes from the prison’s store, with only a small quantity recovered and no arrests made. Police are investigating the thefts.
Corrections Victoria commissioner Jan Shuard said the department would not comment on individual prison security arrangements. 
"Corrections Victoria has worked through all security arrangements with staff at Dhurringile and has increased staffing levels to ensure community safety is protected and prison security is maintained," Ms Shuard said.
She said electronic monitoring was just one of a suite of measures used to manage a very small number of prisoners at Dhurringile.