Prison guards un­der at­tack

Ad­dress the prob­lem: Om­buds­man

Whanganui Chronicle - - Front Page - Staff re­porter

Astaff mem­ber at Whanganui Prison re­quired stitches af­ter be­ing as­saulted by an in­mate at the Kaitoke fa­cil­ity.

It was one of seven cases of as­sault on 11 Whanganui Prison staff in the past month, six of which oc­curred in the past week.

The in­ci­dents come in the wake of a re­port by Chief Om­buds­man Peter Boshier last month which shone the spot­light on high lev­els of vi­o­lence at the prison. In it, he said there was “a clear and ur­gent need for the prison to ad­dress the lev­els of vi­o­lence and in­tim­i­da­tion”.

Chief cus­to­dial of­fi­cer Neal Beales said no staff mem­ber had been hos­pi­talised as a re­sult of the most re­cent in­ci­dents.

“How­ever, one staff mem­ber re­ceived stitches to a cut lip fol­low­ing an as­sault and was at­tended to at the lo­cal ac­ci­dent and emer­gency clinic.”

Other, more mi­nor, cases in the past month in­cluded a pris­oner flick­ing wa­ter from a mop at a staff mem­ber and an­other throw­ing a spice sa­chet at a Cor­rec­tions of­fi­cer.

Whanganui Prison said it had ramped up ef­forts to curb vi­o­lence af­ter the Septem­ber re­port.

Beales said as­saults on staff by pris­on­ers could be spon­ta­neous and with­out any warn­ing and Cor­rec­tions held a zero-tol­er­ance-to-vi­o­lence pol­icy.

“No as­sault or vi­o­lent be­hav­iour is ac­cept­able . . . any pris­oner who re­sorts to vi­o­lence will be held to ac­count,” he said.

“Cor­rec­tions of­fi­cers come to work ev­ery day to keep New Zealan­ders safe. They do an ex­cep­tional and brave job in of­ten very chal­leng­ing cir­cum­stances.

“Our staff work with some of New Zealand’s most dif­fi­cult and chal­leng­ing cit­i­zens.”

Cor­rec­tions ac­cepted 33 of the re­port’s 37 rec­om­men­da­tions and said it was al­ready tak­ing ac­tion.

Beales said the prison was im­ple­ment­ing a “long-term” gang en­gage­ment and man­age­ment and anti-bul­ly­ing strat­egy.

Whanganui Prison has about 544 pris­on­ers and 241 full­time front-line staff.

Just un­der 40 per cent of the prison pop­u­la­tion has a vi­o­lent of­fence as their cur­rent con­vic­tion. More than 75 per cent have a his­tory of con­vic­tions for vi­o­lence.

“Gang preva­lence and in­flu­ence is also a con­tribut­ing fac­tor to the rates of vi­o­lence in prison and gang mem­bers are dis­pro­por­tion­ately iden­ti­fied as re­spon­si­ble for as­saults in prison,” Beales said.


Whanganui Prison has about 544 pris­on­ers and 241 full­time front­line staff.

There have been seven cases of as­sault on 11 Whanganui Prison staff in the past month.

Peter Boshier

Neil Beales

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