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Power long on rhetoric, short on facts – as usual

24 August, 2006

Power long on rhetoric, short on facts – as usual

Today's instalment of prison ramblings by National Party Law and Order spokesman Simon Power flies wide of the mark again, Corrections Minister Damien O'Connor said.

Mr Power said in a statement that the number prisoners testing positive for amphetamine-type drugs has increased since 1999.

"What he does not say is that this year random testing in prisons for all drug types returned the lowest number of positive results since testing began," Mr O'Connor said.

"To put it in perspective – in 1998, when National was mismanaging our prison system, 34 per cent of random drugs tests returned positive results. This year, the total fell to 15.6 per cent.

"The rise in use of P-type drugs in prisons unfortunately reflects a similar jump in the general community. In 1999, 'P' was little known in New Zealand."

The much-improved results were because of better detection, which has led to a 45 per cent increase in the amount of drugs and drug-related utensils confiscated in prisons in the last three years, Mr O'Connor said.

“In 2003, 1962 items were confiscated, while last year 2854 were removed. It should be no surprise that the improvements are due to a $1 billion investment in prisons by the Labour-led Government.

“In the last four years we have installed new security fences, 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.

“There has been increased surveillance at checkpoints and within prisons using drug dogs, television monitoring in visitor areas, scanning equipment and random searches."

Mr O'Connor said that while Corrections was doing an excellent job in slowing the supply of drugs to our prisons, the Labour-led Government was continuously looking for further improvements.

"The security of our prisons has improved dramatically over the past seven years, which as well as leading to a significant drop in escapes, has cut down markedly on drug use. This is very encouraging, but we are determined to keep improving."


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