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More needed to fix Corrections crisis

Simon Power MP
National Party Law & Order Spokesman

13 January 2006

More needed to fix Corrections crisis

National Party Law & Order spokesman Simon Power has welcomed news of more capacity at Kiwi prisons but is asking whether the Minister is absolutely confident security is up to scratch.

He is commenting on a capacity agreement reached today, a few hours after the release of latest in a long line of damning reports into prison escapes and prison procedures.

“No argument that we need more space in our prisons, but can the Department cope?” asks Mr Power.

A report into the escape of Arthur Taylor said of Rimutaka Prison that: ‘The site unwittingly initiated a sequence of events which ultimately resulted in Corrections staff and members of the public being placed in considerable danger’.

Mr Power says Corrections Minister Damien O’Connor needs to do more than make superficial changes.

“The time for excuses has past.”

Since October, Corrections has been plagued by a catalogue of failures including:

1 - Design faults at Ngawha Prison which allowed inmates to leave their cells at night.

2 - Prisoners sleeping in vans/police cells

3 - A report into security at Christchurch prison, which found there was a failure to adequately identify, analyse and respond to all security weaknesses and maintenance requirements.

4 - Reports of inmates showering and exercising at rugby clubrooms while being kept in police/court cells.

5 - And in October 2005 there were seven prison escapes, with four Corrections guards assaulted in Rimutaka prison.

Mr Power says it’s clear the Corrections Minister is letting his bureaucrats run the Department, and it’s time he took more responsibility for its mistakes.

“These mistakes can’t be allowed to continue indefinitely. Where is the Minister on all this stuff?”

ENDS

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