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Minister must explain why restraints rules ignored

Simon Power MP
National Party Justice & Corrections Spokesman

21 July 2008

Minister must explain why waist restraints rules are ignored

The Corrections Minister must explain why his department is allowing rules on the use of waist restraints on prisoners to be ignored, says National’s Justice & Corrections spokesman, Simon Power.

He is commenting after the man who killed Liam Ashley in the back of a prison van in 2006 attacked a guard with a makeshift knife and tried to take him hostage while being transported without a waist restraint.

“Reports that the rules were ignored and that this prisoner was allowed to travel without a restraint are very concerning.

“And indications from the prison guards’ union are that this is not an isolated incident.

“It was because this very prisoner killed Liam Ashley that waist restraints were introduced in the first place, and now we find he is able to attack and injure a guard because someone decided he didn’t have to wear one.

“This has all the makings of yet another Corrections bungle that could have resulted in yet another tragedy.

“Only two weeks ago, Corrections CEO Barry Matthews admitted to a parliamentary select committee that some prisoners had been able to slip their restraint over their head, and answers to written questions confirm this has happened on six occasions.

“These restraints were introduced, at a cost of $218,000, to prevent a repeat of the Liam Ashley tragedy, and we were assured they would work.

“But it seems that not only are prisoners slipping out of the restraints, they are not being used when they are meant to be.

“This guard was lucky but someone else may not be so lucky next time.

“Corrections Minister Phil Goff must explain what is going on.”

Attachment: Answer to parliamentary questions


Answers to parliamentary questions

05809 (2008). Simon Power to the Minister of Corrections (16/6/08): How many waist restraints have been purchased for use by prisoners in transit, and what has been the cost?
Corrections Minister Phil Goff replied: I am advised that 2,143 waist restraints have been purchased at a total cost of $218,586.

05810 (2008). Simon Power to the Minister of Corrections (16/6/08): Have there been any instances where prisoners have removed their waist restraints while in transit; if so, on how many occasions?
Corrections Minister Phil Goff replied: I have been advised about six occasions where prisoners have removed their waist restraints while in transit. These incidents were caused by incorrect application of the restraints, not any issue with the restraints themselves. The graduated roll out of this new equipment commenced in May. The Department has identified that some staff need further training in waist restraint application and they are being instructed.

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