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Fewer experienced guards in prisons

Simon Power MP
National Party Justice & Corrections Spokesman

9 May 2008

Fewer experienced guards in prisons

The staffing crisis in the Corrections Department is going from bad to worse, says National’s Justice & Corrections spokesman, Simon Power.

“Not only is there a problem in recruiting sufficient suitable staff, but it’s very clear there are now fewer experienced frontline guards than ever before.”

He is releasing figures that show a big decline in the number of prison guards and probation officers with more than 10 years’ experience.

They show that last year:
* 25% of guards had more than 10 years’ experience, compared to 42% in 2001, and 37% had less than two years’ experience, compared to 20% in 2001.
* 23% of probation officers had more than 10 years’ experience, compared to 39% in 2001, and 40% had less than two years’ experience, compared to 33% in 2001.

“This is concerning. We’re losing experienced guards and probation officers at the very time we need them – when violent crime is reaching record levels (up by 6,252 offences last year to 56,983) and our prisons are being filled with more offenders.

“Corrections Minister Phil Goff will use the argument that the increase in the prison population and the opening of new prisons means they have had to hire more new staff, so diluting the percentage of experienced officers, but that would be misleading.

“The fact that the number of prison guards has increased by 891 does not explain why the number of those serving for more than 10 years has fallen by 146.

“Or why the total number of probation officers has increased by 111 but the number with more than 10 years’ experience has dropped by 59.

“Phil Goff needs to take a long, hard look at why so many experienced frontline staff are leaving.

“It’s not good enough to one minute put staff ‘on notice’ to improve their performance, and the next minute to dish out $1.8 million on bonuses and perks, mostly to managers.

“There needs to be a culture change, and I’m hoping Parliament’s inquiry into the Corrections Department will help address that by spending a lot of time on recruitment and employment issues.”

Attachment: answers to parliamentary questions

ENDS


Answers to parliamentary questions: Corrections officers

20472 (2007). Simon Power to the Minister of Corrections (11 Dec 2007): How many Corrections Officers were employed, specified by years of service, for each year for which information is available?
Corrections Minister Phil Goff replied: The attached table sets out the full time equivalent (FTE) numbers of Corrections Officers employed, by length of service, as at 30 June of the years for which information is available. The increase in the prison population and the opening of new prisons has required an increase in the number of front line Corrections Officers. As a consequence, there has been an increase in the number of inexperienced Officers. The Department has a comprehensive 8 week Induction and training programme in place for new recruits and to ensure adequate guidance new graduates are supervised by Senior and Principal Corrections Officers. Staff are also encouraged to undertake study for the National Certificate in Offender Management which is the relevant qualification registered with the New Zealand Qualifications Authority. Corrections Officers (at all levels) have access to a detailed set of operational manuals as well as a centrally run Operations Help Desk.

As at 30 June / Less 2 yrs / 2 – 5 yrs / 5 – 10 yrs / Over 10 yrs / Total FTE
2001 / 453.00 / 486.00 / 336.40 / 936.60 / 2,212.00
2002 / 491.00 / 425.00 / 348.00 / 783.60 / 2,047.60
2003 / 357.00 / 481.00 / 395.50 / 919.00 / 2,152.50
2004 / 413.00 / 478.00 / 433.00 / 889.00 / 2,213.00
2005 / 798.00 / 425.80 / 450.00 / 850.00 / 2,523.80
2006 / 1,166.00 / 381.00 / 504.00 / 799.00 / 2,850.00
2007 / 1,146.00 / 687.00 / 480.00 / 790.00 / 3,103.00


20473 (2007). Simon Power to the Minister of Corrections (11 Dec 2007): How many Probation Officers were employed, specified by years of service, for each year for which information is available?
Corrections Minister Phil Goff replied: The attached table sets out the full time equivalent (FTE) numbers of Probation Officers employed, by length of service, as at 30 June of the respective years listed. The number of probation officers has increased in the last year to accommodate the new community sentences that were established in October 2007. As a consequence there has been an increase in the number of inexperienced officers. Comprehensive training is given to new recruits and all new staff complete a 22 module Probation Officer Curriculum in the first 18 to 24 months of service. Continued support and coaching is provided by Service Managers and Senior Probation Officers.

As at 30 June / Less 2 yrs / 2 – 5 yrs / 5 – 10 yrs / Over 10 yrs / Total FTE
2001 / 177.60 / 69.50 / 78.20 / 205.22 / 530.52
2002 / 139.40 / 114.35 / 75.60 / 190.27 / 519.62
2003 / 125.15 / 160.60 / 75.10 / 175.53 / 536.38
2004 / 123.03 / 168.63 / 75.70 / 176.65 / 544.01
2005 / 108.80 / 156.46 / 83.90 / 165.40 / 514.56
2006 / 139.04 / 128.65 / 115.30 / 158.87 / 541.86
2007 / 256.88 / 117.06 / 121.30 / 146.07 / 641.31

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