Agencies to urgently review prisoner escape

  • Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga
  • Michael Woodhouse
Police Corrections

Police Minister Michael Woodhouse and Corrections Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga say agencies are working together to urgently review how a prisoner on temporary release was able to leave the country. 

“The circumstances leading to Phillip John Smith (Traynor) obtaining a passport and later absconding are the subject of multiple investigations involving Police, Corrections and the Department of Internal Affairs,” says Police Minister Michael Woodhouse.

Corrections Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga this morning spoke to Corrections Chief Executive Ray Smith to ensure an urgent review got underway immediately.

“This situation is unacceptable. We need to find out what went wrong and fix any shortcomings,” says Mr Lotu-Iiga.

“We acknowledge the distress the prisoner’s escape has caused his victims and their families, and can assure them every effort is being made to locate and arrest this prisoner as soon as possible.”

Minister Woodhouse says locating the prisoner is clearly the first priority for Police.

“New Zealand Police are working closely with Chilean authorities via Interpol and agencies will strongly pursue all avenues to return the prisoner to New Zealand,” Mr Woodhouse says.

“Right now, our number one priority is ensuring Police work with their international counterparts to trace and re-capture him. The second priority is for departments to urgently look at what went wrong, and where things need to be improved. That work is already underway. 

“While each agency will rightly investigate its own handling of this situation, clearly there have been a number of failings. The Government is seeking advice on a broader inquiry into those failings.

“I’m expecting advice on what form such an inquiry may take and will be discussing the options with my colleagues.”