Following the receipt of information suggesting a prisoner was intending to attempt an escape, Waikeria Prison staff have reviewed his security classification and relocated the prisoner to a higher security unit.
“Public safety is our highest priority and although the prisoner in question denies any plans to escape we treat any information like this seriously. As a precautionary method the prisoner has now been moved to a higher security unit and had his security classification reviewed," says Prison Manager Paul O'Byrne.
“I am proud our staff have acted on the information in a way that puts the security of our staff, other prisoners and most importantly the public as the highest priority.
"We know the majority of prisoner escapes are driven by a desire to see family members or to resolve external issues. Our staff work closely with prisoners to identify and address any problems before it reaches a point where they feel they need to escape our custody. Despite these efforts there are unfortunately always going to be some prisoners who will try to escape. It is our job to be cautious such as in this instance in order to protect the safety of the public."
The prisoner will remain in a more secure unit until we have reviewed the circumstances and completed a comprehensive risk assessment relating to the prisoner's further placement.
Notes to Editors
Waikeria Prison is New Zealand's largest prison and can accommodate up to 1032 prisoners.
There were 12 escapes in the 2008-2009 financial year. This compares to 89 escapes when the Department was established in 1996-1997 and 23 escapes in the 2007-2008 financial year.
Over time prisoners can reduce their security classification by demonstrating responsible behaviour ie not being involved in incidents, attending rehabilitation programmes and employment activities inside the prison. As their behaviour and attitude improves, their risk level lowers and therefore their security classification lowers. This gives them even greater access to rehabilitative and employment programmes, allowing them to make further improvements.
The classification system assesses both internal risk - relating to activities within the prison confines - and external risk - the risk posed to the wider community should the prisoner be paroled or escape. Each prisoner is assessed against both criteria. If their behaviour or attitude deteriorates, their security classification will be increased and they will have greater restrictions placed on them. This is international best practice for managing prisoners.
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