Otago Corrections Facility at Milburn near Milton. Photo by
Assaults on staff at the Otago Corrections Facility are
down 35% and the facility ''rates pretty highly'' compared with
other New Zealand prisons, Labour corrections spokeswoman
Jacinda Ardern says.
She toured the Milburn jail yesterday with fellow Labour MP
David Clark, who represents the Dunedin North electorate.
Ms Ardern said she was visiting prisons throughout the
country to better understand how they operated and to
identify systems which worked as well as those which could be
Corrections officer safety was a particular concern, and
Labour was determined to reduce the rate of assaults on
prison staff, she said.
Ms Ardern supplied the Otago Daily Times with the
latest annual data for serious, non-serious and non-injury
assaults on staff in New Zealand prisons.
It showed in the 2012-13 financial year there were 11
assaults on staff at the Otago Corrections Facility (OCF),
down from 17 assaults in the previous 12-month period.
There were no serious assaults (those warranting
hospitalisation for at least 48 hours), but there were five
involving injury and another six classed as non-injury
Nationally, there were at least 348 assaults on prison staff
in the 12 months to June 30, of which 13 were serious.
Another 105 involved injury.
The highest assault rates were at the Spring Hill Corrections
Facility (47), Auckland Prison (45), and Rimutaka Prison
Ms Ardern said the OCF had a vastly different atmosphere to
other jails she had visited, and its design was unique,
allowing staff more ''time on the floor'' among prisoners.
''I think that makes the prison more manageable day to day
and certainly staff are able to do some new and innovative
things. The variation between facilities is enormous and the
OCF would have to rate pretty highly in terms of the
As a relatively new prison (2007) it offered a ''really high
standard'' of access to rehabilitative programmes and
employment training on site, she said. Despite positive
elements, the facility continued to have ongoing problems
that managers and staff were addressing, Ms Ardern said.
Referrals from Spring Hill had been a ''big change'', and
staff were working to alleviate concerns about prisoners'
health needs not being met and about inappropriate handling
of remand prisoners, she said.
Across the board, Labour was concerned about double-bunking,
as it increased the risk of assaults on staff, and Ms Ardern
said taking time to properly assess prisoners before placing
them in double-bunking arrangements would improve corrections
She was also concerned about whether stab-proof vests were
''as available as they should be'' for staff dealing with
maximum security prisoners, and said the problem with some
re-integration programmes was there were not enough of them.
Ms Ardern said ultimately it was Labour's goal to reduce the
prison muster ''in the first place''.
Assaults on Otago Corrections Facility staff
2012-13: 11 (5 injury, 6 non-injury)
2011-12: 17 (1 serious, 6 injury, 10 non-injury)
2010-11: 11 (2 serious, 2 injury, 7 non-injury)