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Prison intelligence systems help bust crime

3 September 2008

Prison intelligence systems help bust crime

Corrections Minister Phil Goff said that intelligence work by Corrections staff working closely with Police and other agencies will continue to have an important role in fighting crime.

Speaking after the successful implementation of Operation Web yesterday, Mr Goff said that the combined Police, Corrections and Customs operation would have a significant immediate impact on the supply of methamphetamine in the North Island.

"The Crime Prevention Information Capability recently developed by Corrections has already on a number of occasions reaped dividends in the fight against crime," Phil Goff said.

"The goal is to detect, prevent and prosecute crimes using intelligence gathered within the prison system.

"Intelligence is gathered from a number of sources including monitoring of inmates' phone calls and letters and through other means.

"With a very high percentage of gang leaders and members inside prison, surveillance of those members allows Corrections to provide valuable information to police in regard to organised crime.

"All prisoner payphone telephone calls are now recorded and monitored both at random and by targeting inmates suspected of continuing links with outside gang members.

"Despite being advised that all calls are monitored, many gang members continue to share confidences about criminal matters with family and friends outside.

"With the progressive implementation of cell phone blocking across all prisons over the next few months, that avenue of communications is being effectively eliminated," Phil Goff said.

"Four prisons - Otago, Auckland Women's, Manawatu and Northland - now have blocking in place, another five or six are in the process of having blocking technology installed, with the remainder being put in place by early next year.

"Australian Corrections Ministers recently sought advice from New Zealand on our systems and praised us for being at the forefront of work internationally in this area.

"Legislation before Parliament also given prisons the ability to routinely screen inmates' letters.

"For Corrections it's a win-win situation. If the systems in place deter prisoners and gang members from trying to continue their criminal associations and efforts then we have succeeded.

"If they are stupid enough to continue to try to organise criminal activity, surveillance gives us the ability to use the information gained to detect and prosecute crime on the basis of the evidence gathered," Phil Goff said.

ENDS

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