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Labour's broken promise No 3 on law & order:

Simon Power MP National Party Justice & Corrections Spokesman

1 October 2008

Labour's broken promise No 3 on law & order:

Contraband in prisons

The Labour Government has failed to deliver the big hit it promised to prevent contraband entering prisons and enabling prisoners to run crime from behind bars, says National's Justice & Corrections spokesman, Simon Power.

"In June last year, Corrections Minister Damien O'Connor promised to clamp down on contraband, saying: 'I will use every tool at my disposal to remove the scourge of drugs from prisons and to keep cellphones and weapons out of prisoners' hands'.

"He said his Corrections Amendment Bill No 2, which was designed to tackle the issue, would be introduced to Parliament in August - but it wasn't introduced till December.

"Perhaps that's why Helen Clark sacked Damien O'Connor and appointed Phil Goff as her sixth Minister of Corrections.

"The problem is Phil Goff hasn't made a blind bit of difference.

"In April he said the Government was 'working to further strengthen Corrections' ability to stop contraband entering prison through the Corrections Amendment Bill'.

"And when eight prisoners were arrested for their part in a methamphetamine ring last month, he said there was 'legislation before Parliament' to enable prisoners' letters to be screened and give guards more powers to search cells.

"Well, there is legislation before Parliament - it's the Corrections Amendment Bill No 2 - but it's still waiting for its second reading nine months after it was introduced.

"If Labour were really serious about dealing to contraband they would have pushed it through under urgency last week when they had the chance.

"And if they had introduced cellphone blocking technology and telephone monitoring when they said they would, prisoners would not be involved in organising the peddling of methamphetamine to our kids.

"Last year Labour said all prisons would have cellphone blocking technology within a year, but only four prisons now have it, and they have only just started monitoring prisoners' telephone calls, when they had it legislated as long ago as 1999.

"These are all further examples of how Labour has been too slow to crack down on crime being run from inside prisons."

ENDS

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