INDEPENDENT NEWS

Where is report into prison guard safety?

Published: Fri 10 Nov 2006 04:30 PM
Where is report into prison guard safety?
Corrections Minister Damien O’Connor should explain where the report into prison guard safety is, says National’s Law & Order spokesman, Simon Power.
A State Services Commission-sponsored recruitment and retention report recommended in November last year that the department establish a team ‘to consider issues relating to the safety and physical security’ of guards.
“But nothing seems to have happened,” says Mr Power.
“It is clear from recent reports of assaults on guards and among inmates that officer safety needs to be looked at urgently.”
Assaults on guards increased by 68% in two years, from 107 in 2003/04 to 180 in the first nine months of 2005/06. The Corrections Association says there is now an average of one assault each day on its members.
Guards have been held hostage at Paremoremo twice in the past six weeks.
“As the level of violence in our community rises – remember that violent crime has increased by 26% since 2000 – prison guards are having to deal with more violence on a daily basis, and in vastly overcrowded situations.
“As such, we must ensure they have the best procedures available to them to deal with that.
“We know it is getting bad when guards openly call for access to pepper spray and even Tasers.
“I am not suggesting that that is where we want to go, but it is obviously getting serious for them to be talking that way and the situation should be looked at.
“A full review of staff safety would go some way to identifying the problems and finding solutions.”
Ends

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