Home > News > Archive > 6th February 2007

Waikeria staff did top job in handling protest at prison

Courtesy of Te Awamutu Courier

Waikeria staff moved quickly to quell a potentially explosive situation at the prison last week.

Prisons Service regional manager, Gavin Dalziel says staff did a superb job in handling the incident.

“Staff at the prison acted professionally and effectively and quickly contained the situation. Staff are trained to deal with a variety of situations and once again the quality of staff employed at Waikeria came to the fore,” Mr Dalziel says.

The prison was locked down when 23 inmates were involved in a protest over more frequent cell searches.

“As part of normal events that take place from time to time based on intelligence information, a major search operation had been undertaken at the prison,” Mr Dalziel says. “This was done to ensure the continued security of the facility and the safety of all people within it. As is the case in any operation such as this, border control measures (road blocks) were put into place. During this operation prisoners who were housed in secure yards for their daily exercise began to break wooden seats up to use as weapons to resist being returned to their cells. They also complained about conditions in their accommodation unit.”

As a precautionary measure extra staff were deployed to the area and the situation was brought to a peaceful conclusion, with all prisoners returned to their cells in an orderly fashion.

As part of routine procedure Te Awamutu Police were notified, but their assistance was not required.

“At no time during the situation was any risk presented to any member of the public and there were no staff or prisoners injured during the incident.”

Mr Dalziel says the Department of Corrections has a robust complaints procedure that ensures legitimate complaints from prisoners are able to be resolved.