Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis cannot continue to remain silent on the staffing and resourcing concerns raised by the Ombudsman following an unannounced inspection of Auckland Prison, National’s Corrections spokesperson Simeon Brown says.
The Ombudsman has released a report highlighting a number of issues at the Prison which stem from a significant lack of resourcing and under staffing.
“Corrections officers are working with some of New Zealand’s most hardened and dangerous criminals. They are being let down by a Minister who is silent and absent and not providing staff the support they need to do the job they are required to do,” Mr Brown says.
“Kelvin Davis told New Zealanders that by reducing the prison population corrections staff would be able to give prisoners more attention and help with their rehabilitation process. But this report paints a different picture.
“Instead the Government’s focus on releasing prisoners has meant our corrections staff are under resourced. Alongside this we have seen a staggering increase in assaults on corrections officers.
“Our corrections officers already have a difficult task dealing with some of New Zealand’s most hardened criminals, their safety should be a top priority. How can we expect our corrections officers to successfully rehabilitate prisoners if they are being assaulted and don’t have the resources they need.
“The report also highlights the growing influence gangs are having in our prisons, intimidating other prisoners and forcing some into voluntary isolation due to fear. But who runs our prisons, the gangs or the Government?
“If Kelvin Davis is serious about reducing recidivism rates and keeping our correction officers safe while they do their jobs, then he needs to step up, show some leadership and put the gangs in their place.
“Our corrections officers are in a dangerous environment every day, they don’t need more silence and weak leadership from the Minister.”