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Inquiry needs teeth - Greens

28 August 2006

Inquiry needs teeth - Greens

The Green Party is welcoming the announcement by the Office of the Ombudsmen that it will investigate the current practises and procedures relating to the transportation of prisoners, but warned that more barking will not replace adequate teeth.

"The number of investigations launched in response to the death of 17-year-old Liam Ashley in custody indicates how seriously people are taking this incident - and rightly so - but it seems a bit of a patch-work, says Justice Spokesperson Nandor Tanczos.

"The police investigation can only focus on the attacker, Chubb can only look at its internal systems, the Corrections Department will be bound by internal issues and any recommendations from a coroner's inquest can be as easily ignored as those of the Ombudsmen.

"What we really need is an investigation by a body with teeth.

"An independent prison inspectorate, with the ability to investigate incidents and proactively examine practises, and the power to force change, might have prevented this death. The Ombudsmen will do, as they have done in the past, an excellent job, but the system itself needs to change.

The Green Party has been critical of the Corrections Department's apparent blase attitude to recommendations by bodies such as the Ombudsmen and coroners, and has been negotiating with the Government on the form of an independent prison inspectorate, agreed during discussions last year.

"This case surely highlights how important an independent prison inspectorate is."

ENDS

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