Labour blocks inquiry into prison violence

It’s disappointing the Government has chosen to block an inquiry into the increasing violence being experienced in our prisons, National’s Corrections spokesperson Simeon Brown says.

Mr Brown says that since Kelvin Davis became Minister of Corrections there has been a 92 per cent increase on prisoner assaults on corrections officers and a 30 per cent increase in prisoner on prisoner assaults.

The number of corrections officers requiring medical treatment from prisoner assaults has also increased by an alarming 80 per cent since 2017.

The Parliamentary Select Committee inquiry would’ve investigated:  

  • Any influence gangs are having on the violence in our prisons
  • If the disciplinary regime in our prisons is fit for purpose
  • If the disciplinary regime is being implemented consistently across all prisons
  • If Corrections Officers have the tools and equipment needed to keep themselves safe

“New Zealand’s prisons should be a safe place for both corrections staff and prisoners. Such a rapid increase in violence is unacceptable,” Mr Brown says.

“The situation has got so bad for staff who feel let down by the Government that the Corrections Association has signalled a vote of no confidence in the Corrections Minister.

“A Select Committee inquiry will allow Parliament to uncover what is causing the increase in violence and what actions are needed to address it.

“Mr Davis has been quick to announce reviews into the treatment of prisoners, while ignoring calls from his own staff to prioritise their safety and implement change.

“It’s disappointing that despite Mr Davis claiming he wants to lead transformational change in the corrections system his Government blocked a parliamentary inquiry into the challenges staff have been facing and what institutional change may be needed to keep them and prisoners safe.

“Our corrections officers put their lives in danger every day. We owe it to them to make sure their workplace is as safe as possible.”