Monday 27 March 2006 For immediate release
The Department of Corrections can reassure the public as to the safety of transferring prisoners around New Zealand by air.
Public Prisons Service Assistant General Manager (Operations) Bryan McMurray said security arrangements are agreed between Corrections and air carriers before transfers can take place.
“The safety record speaks for itself with no incidents worth noting in the many years that scheduled air carriers have been used to transfer prisoners,” he said.
“Airlines will not allow prisoners on aircraft unless they are completely satisfied of the safety.”
Mr McMurray said the increase in the number of prisoner transfers reflected the growth in prisoner numbers and the shortage of prisoner accommodation in the Auckland area.
“As has been explained to media, there is nothing new about prisoner transfers which have been taking place by air for many years,” he said.
“Often Corrections has no control over the timing of these transfers as these are done at the request of the Courts and the Police.”
Corrections uses a process to prioritise prisoners for transfer to the most appropriate prison for them to serve their sentence. But, on occasion, we receive information subsequent to transfer requiring prisoners to return to the area they were received to attend further court or medical appointments.
Mr McMurray said it is quite bizarre to suggest Corrections does not know how many prison buses are in operation.
“There are two buses in operation. A new bus was ordered in April 2005 and will replace one of the existing buses once a security fitout is completed.”
It is expected the new bus will be in operation around July 2006.