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Corrections Responsible For ERU Disaster

17 December 2004

Corrections Responsible For ERU Disaster

New Zealand First law and order spokesperson Ron Mark is calling for heads to roll in the Corrections Department and says weak and flawed leadership across regional and national levels of management can be blamed for the failed actions and inappropriate activity of the Canterbury Emergency Response Unit (ERU).

Mr Mark’s comments follow the tabling of the State Services Commission’s damning report on the inquiry into the Department of Correction’s handling of the Canterbury Emergency Response Unit.

Mr Mark had pushed for the investigation of the ERU, better known as the “Goon Squad”, since its disestablishment in July 2000.

“The report confirms all I have said for the last three years – that the Corrections Department allowed a paramilitary, boy’s own unit to be established for inappropriate reasons, with inappropriate controls.

“This unit was allowed to operate illicitly, to break the law, to abuse inmates and staff and misuse funds with impunity,” said Mr Mark.

“The failure of the ERU is a result of an inept and incompetent Corrections Department, which allowed good, honest prison officers to be victimised and harassed and stood aside as inmates were abused.

“This inactivity continued through to ministerial level, with all four ministers of Corrections during this time neglecting to do anything about it.

“Now, the Government has orchestrated the release of the report during House Urgency, thereby preventing parties like New Zealand First from debating the report and questioning the Minister.

“This kind of thing flies in the face of Helen Clark’s promise of a new era of accountability under her leadership. How can the public have faith in the Government’s accountability when serious matters like this are swept under the rug?” concluded Mr Mark.

ENDS

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