14 Mar 2009

Report attacks state of Auckland prisons

7:08 am on 14 March 2009

A report into the state of Auckland's three prisons has uncovered serious shortcomings, including lax security, shortages of guards, prisoner unruliness and unacceptable hygiene.

The report, commissioned by the Corrections Association, the union for prison guards, is highly critical of Auckland's three prison facilities, particularly the maximum-security complex at Paremoremo.

The report, compiled by Colin Rosewarne, an Australian expert on prison health and safety, says Paremoremo is filthy and badly run and is not a maximum-security facility at all because the watch-towers are unmanned, movement detectors do not work and there are no perimeter patrols.

Mr Rosewarne says security at Mt Eden, a 136-year-old prison, is lax, but surprisingly better than at a newer, more hi-tech remand centre.

But the Corrections Department questions the validity of the report and Mr Rosewarne's motives, saying he did not spend enough time in the prisons to make an accurate assessment.

The department's northern regional manager, Warren Cummins, says the report contains inaccuracies.

However, Corrections Minister Judith Collins says the report raises significant concerns.

Ms Collins says National has inherited some very run-down prisons from the previous government.

However, she refutes the suggestion that all three facilities have serious security shortcomings, saying there would be more escapes if that were the case.

Ms Collins will not intervene in the matter for now, saying she wants to give the department and the Corrections Association the opportunity to deal with the report's findings first.

Report horrific - dead inmate's family

The lawyer for the family of an inmate killed at Auckland Prison says a scathing report on its security, staffing levels and hygiene is horrific.

Tue Faavae was stabbed to death at Paremoremo earlier in the month and his family has hired lawyer Olinda Woodroffe to find out how it was allowed to happen.

Ms Woodroffe says his death supports the report's claims of staff shortages because it would have taken a significant amount of time, unsupervised, to inflict his injuries.

Lawyer Barry Hart, whose client Antonie Dixon recently died at Paremoremo, says the report confirms his long held concerns.

Mr Hart says people are unsafe there and he wants an inquiry into the region's corrections facilities.