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No confidence vote symptom of systemic failure

Simon Power MP National Party Law & Order Spokesman

15 January 2006

No confidence vote symptom of systemic failure

National Party Law & Order Spokesman Simon Power says a vote of no-confidence in management by staff at Manawatu Prison is a symptom of a much bigger disease.

"That's a very serious step for anyone to take. It shows management hasn't got a grip on what's going on and it seems to be a continuation of recent management lapses elsewhere.

"But I don't agree with a Union call for an internal investigation. It should be done independently of the Department and it needs to be transparent."

Mr Power says the vote of no confidence is the latest in a catalogue of recent failures within Corrections.

On Friday a report 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'.

Other recent issues for the Department include:

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 a stop-gap announcement on Friday that will see more space freed-up in prisons was merely an exercise in damage control by a Minister who's struggling to keep pace with the crisis in his patch.

"Damien O'Connor can't keep ignoring this stuff. When the staff lose confidence in the service it's usually not long before the public follows suit," says Mr Power.

ENDS

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