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Telephone monitoring improves public safety

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Corrections

26 May 2007
Media statement

Telephone monitoring improves public safety

Telephone monitoring technology recently implemented in prisons has again paid dividends following new charges being laid against a prisoner after he was caught making serious threats against his partner.

Corrections Minister Phil Goff said the public has a right to expect that prisoners will not be able to intimidate people from within prison.

“Telephone monitoring technology makes it more likley that if prisoners to do this sort of activity they can be detected. When they are caught, they can expect to be prosecuted,” Mr Goff said.

“The prisoner in question made serious threats to his estranged partner which Corrections staff monitored and recorded. Staff passed the evidence on to Police who, based on that evidence, interviewed and charged the prisoner.

“This prisoner was terrorising his partner and she was too scared to come forward and make a statement. Without the use of this technology, it is unlikely charges could have been laid.

“He has subsequently pleaded guilty to these charges and is remanded in custody and is awaiting further sentencing.

The Corrections Act allows the Department to record all calls made by prisoners from a prison payphone. Calls at all New Zealand prisons are randomly monitored in order to detect and investigate offences committed by prisoners and those that commit crimes on their behalf.

“Since it was piloted in November, evidence gathered through telephone monitoring has led to charges against prisoners for robberies, gang activity, illegal drug use and a raft of other offending.”

Corrections staff using the monitoring technology are able to identify numbers that are exempt or pre-approved for prisoners to use. Exempt numbers include the Office of the Ombudsman, legal representatives, Members of Parliament and certain Government agencies, the IRD.

"Telephone monitoring is one of a number of security tools introduced by this government to stop prisoners from committing crimes from inside prison walls,” Mr Goff said.

"Other initiatives include single point of entry to prisons, greater search powers at prison gates, cellphone blocking technology and the creation of the Department’s Crime Prevention Information Capability (CPIC) team.

"Changes to the Corrections Act, currently before the House, will give the Department greater powers to search prisoners; mail. Combined, telephone monitoring, cell phone blocking and mail searching will severely limit the ability of prisoners to communicate with people in the community to undertake illegal activities.


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