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Letter from Ron Mark MP to Hon Paul Swain

20 May 2004

Hon Paul Swain Minister of Corrections Executive Wing Parliament Buildings

Dear Minister

I am writing to ask you to initiate a commission of inquiry into the manner in which the Corrections Department has investigated and dealt with the widely reported instances of inappropriate relationships between inmates and prison officers.

Inappropriate relationships between inmates and prison officers do not only compromise security but they bring the prison service into disrepute and seriously undermine the integrity of the Corrections Department and it’s staff. Especially where they involve sex or romantic liaisons.

It is the view of the New Zealand First Party that the Corrections Departments failure to properly investigate how, when and why these relationships occurred prevents it from responsibly determining or understanding the risk environment, any systemic shortfalls or any deficiencies in the staff selection process, supervision/support. It also prevents the Department from identifying any possibilities of staff being blackmailed, coerced or perhaps of their misusing their position of authority.

As a Minister we do not believe you cannot ignore your Departments Occupational Safety and Health obligations or any issues of abuse of vulnerable inmates and or Prison Officers.

This is a serious issue that must be investigated understood and effectively curbed. I urge you most sincerely to put together an independent commission of inquiry and thoroughly and comprehensively investigate this matter.

Yours sincerely

Ron Mark MP New Zealand First


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