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Prisons more secure under Labour

2 July, 2006 Media Statement

Prisons more secure under Labour

Prison security has greatly improved since Labour formed a government in 1999, Corrections Minister Damien O'Connor says.

"The number of breakout escapes has dropped by two-thirds from 31 in 1997/98 to 11 this financial year, despite a significant increase in prison muster. The year 1996/97 was just as bad, with 27 prisoners able to break out," Mr O'Connor said.

“There is absolutely no room for complacency, and 11 is still too high, but it is pleasing that the Labour-led Government's large investment in Corrections is producing results. The number of breakout escapes has remained comparatively low and steady for the past seven years.

"It is also gratifying that our escape statistics are very low by international comparisons. There is no comparable jurisdiction that I am aware of that has a zero escape record."

Since 1999, the Government has invested an additional $1 billion to build new prisons and upgrade existing sites, Mr O'Connor said. At the same time, Corrections constantly reviews and improves security measures at prisons to minimise the risk of escapes, and reduce contraband coming in.

"Of the $1 billion, about eight per cent has been spent specifically on security.

"This includes the 17 kilometres of security fences that now surrounds our 19 prisons – paid for by $10.7 million since 2002, and new electronic security devices, including cameras, fence motion detectors, pulsed infra red detection devices, closed circuit TV, video motion detectors, microwave sensors and security management systems.

“Corrections’ primary concern is for the safety of the community and prison staff.

“These escape figures show the approach is working.”

See below for further safety improvements, and escapes by financial year.

Further safety improvements:

• Budget 2005 provided an additional $4.1 m over four years for security and crime prevention.
• 60% of all prisons have a central control room facility to enhance surveillance and improve prison operation and staff safety.
• The number of drug-dog teams has doubled since 2004. Corrections has 10 drug dog teams operating in its prisons.
• Regular searches of staff and visitors at entry point and random searches of prison buildings and land.
• Single point of entry at prisons.


Financial year Breakout escapes
1996/97 27
1997/98 31
1998/99 6
1999/2000 11
2000/01 7
2001/02 13
2002/03 10
2003/04 9
2004/05 11
2005/06 11

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