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Minister listens to local concerns for new prison

Hon Matt Robson
Minister of Corrections, Minister for Courts
Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control
Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade

News release

Minister listens to local concerns for new prison

27th January 2000 Immediate release

Minister of Correction Matt Robson today visited the Ngawha area in the Far North to listen to local opinion both for and against the proposed new prison for the North.

“Today has been very constructive. There were legitimate concerns raised by those who don’t see building new prisons as the best way of reducing crime in this area.

“There were also arguments put forward by local Maori who want a facility of some sort to go ahead. They want to offer local solutions to local problems, and concentrate primarily on offenders from the North. At present about 300 offenders from the North are in prison in other parts of the country.

“I have said all along that if the only solution to a rise in crime and a rise in prison population were to build new cells, then there wouldn’t be much hope.

“Simply building new prisons for the sake of it isn’t enough of a solution.

“But with the best correction facilities in the right places we can best target those offenders who re-offend. At the end of the day that’s the most effective way to stop the endless cycle of crime.

“We do need regional facilities strategically placed across New Zealand, running the best programmes available which target re-offending.

“There is no point in sending large numbers of offenders from one area of the country to someone else’s back-yard, when their own families and communities are the best qualified to deal with them.

“Since becoming Minister I have been on a fact-finding mission to get as much information as possible before deciding whether or not to go ahead with a prison.

“It would be irresponsible to go-ahead with a project started by the former National government without all the facts. I have now consulted widely with officials in my department and with local groups.

“I will be making a final decision about what kind of facility might be appropriate for the North and where it might go ahead, over the next few weeks.”

Matt Robson also brought a message from Deputy Prime Minister Jim Anderton that he is in the process of developing an Economic plan for Northland to create real jobs.

“The government will be coming back to Northland to consult with business and local people about how best to use the vast natural resources Northland has such as Forestry and Tourism to create jobs,’ Matt Robson said.

Matt Robson will close an old prison in Wanganui tomorrow, visit new units at Kaitoke and present certificates in Hamilton to the first team of professional facilitators to target re-offending with a new approach. This is an important first for the department of Corrections.

ENDS

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