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Tragedy On Its Way

Tragedy On Its Way

Tuesday 14 Sep 2004

Dr Muriel Newman

Press Releases - Crime & Justice

While the entire nation is aware of the dangers posed to the community by pulling police off the beat to guard prisoners, few are aware of the risks facing over-worked police and under-supervised prisoners, ACT New Zealand Deputy Leader and Police Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman said today.

"Police insiders have informed me of real concerns over the situation where inexperienced police officers are having to guard prisoners, in conditions that are totally unacceptable. They say it is a disaster waiting to happen," Dr Newman said.

"I predict that, if this situation is allowed to continue, it is only a matter of time before we see some kind of tragedy - a suicide or a vicious attack.

"Further, my sources inform me that the impact on communities has not been minor. In fact, there are police districts where, due to the deployment of front-line police officers to prisoner guard duties, local police have had to halve their emergency response vehicle numbers.

"This is completely unacceptable and puts everyone at risk. Worse, this situation was entirely predictable - Labour was warned when it first came to office that the prison population was on the rise, and that existing facilities were inadequate to cope with the rapid growth.

"What we are now seeing is dangerous incompetence on a massive scale. I urge the Government to urgently inform the public what steps it intends to take to sort this situation out," Dr Newman said.

ENDS

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