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Police Suspend Business With Security Firm

Police Suspend Business With Security Firm

Police have suspended their business arrangements with a Wellington security company after the company supplied two staff with criminal convictions to monitor a prisoner at Wellington Central Police Station, says Police Minister Annette King.

Ms King had asked for an urgent report on the incident following questions in the House yesterday by New Zealand First law and order spokesperson Ron Mark.

"I want to thank Ron Mark for alerting us to this situation. Police Commissioner Howard Broad agrees with me that it was totally inappropriate for the security company to provide two guards with criminal convictions who had not been vetted properly. He is very disappointed, and so am I."

Ms King says the Commissioner's office has provided her with a preliminary report. "One of the men assigned to monitoring a woman prisoner, assessed as being at high risk of committing suicide, had gang links and convictions for rape and serious assaults, while the guard doing the second shift had dishonesty convictions.

"It has been a normal option for Wellington Police to use security guards for many years, probably more than 20, and Wellington Police have had a business arrangement with this company, Specialised Guard Services Ltd (formerly First Contact Security), for six months. I agree it can make sense to use private security guards, rather than sworn frontline officers, to act in such a monitoring role, sitting and watching a prisoner through a glass window, but they must be fit and proper people.

"Under the arrangement with Wellington the company should not have sent police security guards who had not been cleared to obtain a security guard licence. Police have been advised by the company that checks had not been conducted on these two men, and they feel badly let down by a company that was regarded as a trusted partner."

Ms King says there are still questions that need answering. "Police are checking to make sure that nothing similar is occurring or has occurred in other police districts, and senior police managers are also reviewing their systems to ensure this situation cannot arise again. It is absolutely unacceptable. I have asked for quick assurances, and Commissioner Broad has promised me that will happen."

Ends

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