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Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis’ claim that he hadn’t seen the latest prison population forecast before making the decision to slash the number of new beds at Waikeria Prison beggars belief, Opposition Leader Simon Bridges says.

“Mr Davis has claimed that the first time he saw the latest prison population forecast report – which says the forecast muster is set to be 2000 prisoners higher than the last projection – was last night as a result of a media query.

“This is despite justice sector officials having finalised the report last October – well before the Government made the decision to reduce the number of new beds at Waikeria Prison by around 1000.

“It’s hard to believe that Corrections would not have given its Minister this crucial information at a time when the Government was making a decision on how many prison beds to build.

“But even if what Mr Davis says is true, he has the new forecast now so what is his plan?

“The Government was not building enough beds to meet the previous forecast. Now its decision to build 1000 fewer beds has been shown to be downright reckless. It simply won’t have enough beds to lock away all the serious offenders it needs to to keep New Zealanders safe.

“The options are simple. He can either do the right thing and build the required number of prison beds while also coming up with a real plan to reduce crime, or he can make it easier for criminals to get out of prison and harder for them to get there in the first place.

“Softening the bail, parole and sentencing laws will make New Zealanders less safe but Labour has made it clear this is what it wants to do.

“And it will need the support of New Zealand First. So where does Winston stand?

“Either way this Government’s reckless endangering of the public and its incompetent handling of law and order needs to stop.”

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