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Goff rolled on employment of prison guards

Simon Power MP National Party Justice & Corrections Spokesman

24 April 2008

Goff rolled on employment of prison guards

The Corrections Department is leaving itself open to further allegations of corruption and security issues by refusing to have new guards sign a statutory declaration regarding criminal convictions, says National's Justice & Corrections spokesman, Simon Power.

He is releasing an answer to a parliamentary question which confirms there is no requirement for guard applicants to sign a statutory declaration on their application form regarding previous criminal convictions. Instead, they are 'asked to declare any criminal convictions ... and are required to sign and date a statement that all of the information provided is correct.'

"But that isn't strong enough - it doesn't discourage dishonesty, and it won't make new guards more accountable.

"And it won't stop convicts getting jobs as guards, as nearly happened last year when a trainee was only days away from starting at Spring Hill.

"She had almost completed a six-week training course when she was sprung by fellow trainees just before graduation because she 'knew a bit too much'.

"It was so serious that Corrections Minister Phil Goff asked his department to consider making the criminal convictions part of the job application a statutory declaration."

He said such a move 'would discourage dishonesty and create the ability to prosecute people who are dishonest in filling [applications] out.'

"I agree with that, but he appears to have been rolled by his department, saying that an assessment 'indicates that this is not required', and then ducks for cover by saying employment matters 'are the responsibility of the Chief Executive'.

"They obviously weren't when he made the suggestion but are now that he's been rolled.

"All this at a time when Corrections is having trouble attracting staff, and the worry is they will lower their standards to get the numbers they need.

"This situation is letting the majority of good, hard working guards down. They need an assurance that their colleagues will be of similar calibre and integrity.

"Corrections must insist on the highest standards for guards."

ENDS


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