Government to Trial Non-Departmental Providers in Prisoner Escorts

  • Paul East

The Government's determination to free up police and prison officers for front-line duties moved a step closer today when Minister of Corrections, Paul East, announced plans to pilot the use of security contractors for prisoner escort and courtroom custodial work.

At present, these services are undertaken by Police and the Department of Corrections. The new pilot will take place in the Auckland and Northland regions.

"The Government is determined to ensure that police and prison officers are engaged in important front-line work rather than ferrying criminals between courts and prisons," said Mr East.

He said the pilot would include the transportation of prisoners between police stations, courts, prisons and forensic psychiatric units. It would also cover the guarding of prisoners in courts as it applies to prison officers. Police will continue to carry out a custodial function in the courts

Mr East said public and courtroom security would not be compromised by the new arrangements.

"Operators participating in this pilot will be required to adhere to detailed policies and procedures and will be trained to the same standard as Corrections staff," said Mr East. "Stringent checks by independent monitors will ensure operators meet the required standards," he said.

Mr East said that overseas experience and a feasibility study done in the Auckland/Northland region confirmed the pilot had potential to improve the service quality and help reduce the cost to the taxpayer.