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Much still rotten at Rimutaka Prison

Simon Power MP National Party Justice & Corrections Spokesman
14 February 2008

Much still rotten at Rimutaka Prison

National's Justice & Corrections spokesman, Simon Power, says it's clear all is not well at Rimutaka Prison, despite an independent inquiry finding no evidence of systemic corruption by staff.

"There has been much too much smoke for too long at Rimutaka to not believe there has been and probably still is a great deal of fire somewhere there.

"Contrary to the spin Corrections CEO Barry Matthews might like to put on it, it is clear from this report that there is an unhealthy culture at Rimutaka.

"Remember what they were saying last year about Rimutaka:

* Barry Matthews: 'We've got a big problem ... at Rimutaka.' * Public Prisons Service General Manager Harry Hawthorn: 'I expect there will be more [corruption],' and they are 'starting to expose the problem'.

"Is he now trying to say everything is fine?

The inquiry found that 'because of the culture that has existed at Rimutaka Prison, some corrupt activity involving staff has allegedly occurred but has or is presently being dealt with either by the NZ Police or the Department.'

"In other words, this report does not provide the full picture.

"Despite the number of general claims of corruption, staff appeared reluctant to make specific allegations against their colleagues - as one employee stated, he 'still had to work with these people'.

"The investigator admits being 'surprised at the apparent reluctance of many managers to come forward and speak', when presumably this would have also allowed them to defend any allegations raised.

"That points to a culture problem and makes me wonder if we will ever get to the bottom of it unless there is a big change.

"The investigator also says he 'would strongly concur' with comments by a senior manager that 'there needs to be a change in culture'.

"They must change the systems to allow people to come forward to expose corruption.

"Corrections has been admitting for some time now that there was a culture of corruption at the prison.

"They asked for the inquiry so they must have believed it existed. It's rather disingenuous of them now to be now pretending that Rimutaka now has a clean bill of health."


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