OCF work to start next month

Construction work to prepare the Otago Corrections Facility for the transfer of high-security prisoners will begin next month.

About 80 high-security prisoners at Christchurch Men’s Prison will be moved to the Milburn facility, which is near Milton.

Alongside that, 40 low-security prisoners from the Otago Corrections Facility (OCF) and Christchurch Men’s Prison will be moved to Rolleston Prison.

The transfers were originally due to be completed by mid-September last year, but were delayed to allow time for renovations to be completed at the OCF.

Department of Corrections acting regional commissioner Chris O’Brien-Smith said the construction would begin next month and be completed in late May.

The transfer of prisoners would take place as soon as practicable once the work was completed.

The renovations were estimated to cost $1.6million.

The upgrades would provide additional security features in the unit the high-security prisoners would be moved to, which would ensure the safety of staff and prisoners.

It included the installation of an enclosed walkway, structural changes to the perimeter fence, interior bars on windows and additional electronic security.

There would also be additional staff rostered on in the unit.

The construction would not change the ratio of high-security prisoners the site had capacity for.

Although there had been no change to the number of prisoners who would be transferred, managing prisoner accommodation placements was a complex task, Ms O’Brien-Smith said.

"The decision to move any prisoner will be made on a case-by-case basis."

The planning would be affected by many factors, such as new arrivals into custody, releases, escalated tension across sites and Covid-19.

Which prisoners would be transferred would be decided once the construction work was complete, she said.

wyatt.ryder@odt.co.nz

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