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$4.4m to keep prisoners in police cells

Simon Power MP
National Party Justice & Corrections Spokesman

07 January 2008

$4.4m to keep prisoners in police cells

The Government’s poor prisons planning meant it was forced to spend $4.4 million to keep prisoners in police cells, says National’s Justice & Corrections spokesman, Simon Power.

He is releasing figures which show that prisoners spent 23,734 bed nights in police cells in 2006/07, at a cost of $190 per night.

“Though this is an improvement on 2005/06, it is still way too high and is a cost that could have been avoided if Labour had got its planning right – something they never seem able to do.

“In fact, if the present rate of increase in the prison population continues, Corrections is likely to be spending much more than $4.4 million in the near future.

“Figures for the seasonal peak in September show the muster was 8,457 – just 16 short of the 8,473 projected for September 2011.

“In addition, the muster numbers for December are hundreds ahead of forecast, despite what Corrections Minister Phil Goff will have us believe.

“He told the House on December 11 that the December muster of 7,828 was ‘practically identical’ and ‘tracking very closely to those predicted’ for December, when in fact the Ministry of Justice says it is actually 214 above the forecast.

“Despite getting a new Minister, it seems the culture of denial in the Corrections Department is alive and well.

“This is all very concerning, and raises questions over how Corrections is going to cope going into next year.

“Let’s hope Phil Goff wakes up to the real situation before his department is forced to jam more prisoners into police and court cells, and hold them in vans on the street and shower them in rugby clubrooms, like it did in 2005.”

Attachment: Ministry of Justice figures [XLS], answer to financial review question (1 page) [PDF], hansard (1 page) [DOC]


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