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More questions for Corrections Minister

Simon Power MP
National Party Justice & Corrections Spokesman

7 December 2006

More questions for Corrections Minister

Corrections Minister Damien O'Connor should be fronting to answer questions over another serious incident involving prisoners being transported in a prison van, says National's Justice & Corrections spokesman, Simon Power.

He is commenting after two prisoners were found unconscious when their van arrived at Rimutaka Prison after guards ignored their calls for help.

"We are told they started beating on their cage when the van was still in Wellington but the guards ignored them and continued to Upper Hutt, which is 30 minutes' drive away.

"Corrections' own procedure is that at any sign of trouble the guards should drive to the nearest secure area, such as a police station, which in this case would have been Wellington or Lower Hutt, only 15 minutes away.

"The public needs to know what went wrong here. Was there a problem with the van? And why was procedure not followed?

"Damien O'Connor should be answering these questions. He has failed to front on the delay in the Ashley report - is he still the Minister?

"This incident might have been avoided had Corrections not decided - the day before Liam Ashley died - to abandon a proposed upgrade of security and surveillance in vans.

"Damien O'Connor also needs to say if he will be reviewing that call, which relegated prisoner safety behind the millions of dollars spent on landscaping, flat-screen TVs, and X-Boxes.

"To not do so could also open Corrections up to further compensation claims from prisoners."

ENDS

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