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Jail bed crisis back

24 May 2005

Jail bed crisis back

Only six months after Labour claimed to have fixed the jail bed crisis, official figures show it is back.

Police and court cells are being used just as much as in the 2004 crisis, says National's Law and Order spokesman, Tony Ryall.

He has released official figures that show the use of police and court cells to hold prisoners has rocketed since the beginning of the year.

In April, prisoners were held in these cells for 4,824 bed-nights compared with 921 in February. Last year's muster crisis hit a peak of 5,969 bed-nights in September and 5,043 in October.

"A second jail crisis in less than eight months shows total incompetence by the Labour Government.

"Minister Paul Swain assured the country that he had this under control when clearly he did not.

"Not enough has been done to prevent this from happening. Mr Swain gets a weekly report showing the use of police and court cells. He obviously is not reading them.

"Mainstream New Zealand should be worried by this crisis because it shows government incompetence and will mean further prisoner compensation claims.

"Police have already warned about the danger posed by holding prisoners in police and court cells. Last year the crisis saw officers and inmates attacked.

"A Ministry of Justice report last year said part of the reason for the muster crisis were delays in the court system.

"This Government is lurching from crisis to crisis in law and order. Their incompetence continues," says Mr Ryall.

ENDS

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