A prisoner riot at Spring Hill jail last year was "extremely
well managed" by Corrections staff, an official inquiry into
the incident has found.
The internal inquiry by the Department of Corrections looked
at the circumstances and causes of the riot, which broke out
on Saturday, June 1 last year.
The brawl was sparked by the discovery of two containers of
'homebrew' by prison staff at the North Waikato facility.
Following the discovery staff members were assaulted, and
when they retreated the prisoners began attacking the jail,
the report released today said. Within hours up to 27
prisoners were running riot within the prison, damaging
property and lighting fires.
The inquiry found that the ability of prisoners to stockpile
fruit, and access alcohol-based sanitisers, had contributed
to the incident. The homebrew was found to have been made
from fermented fruit.
Aspects of the design of the unit and how high security
prisoners were being managed was also highlighted.
"We've learned from this event and taken recommendations on
board to reduce the possibility of another similar
disturbance," said Corrections chief executive Ray Smith.
"I'm proud the inquiry recognised that individual staff
members showed courage and commitment under very difficult
conditions. Our Advanced Control and Restraint teams ended
the riot safely and in extremely difficult circumstances.
"Staff have been recognised and commended for their actions
The inquiry recommended a number of improvements to the way
prisons are managed, including limiting the amount of fruit
available to prisoners, reviewing the management of high
security prisoners and removing alcohol-based hand
The final cost to Corrections for rebuilding the unit which
was destroyed in the riot, with security and safety
enhancements, is approximately $10 million, Corrections said.
The full report was not released to the public in order to
"protect the security of New Zealand prisons and because
prisoners are still facing court processes", the department
More than 20 prisoners were charged with serious offences in
relation to the riot.
- By Patrice Dougan of APNZ