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Prison safety to be boosted as on-body cameras go nationwide

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Corrections Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga says staff and prisoner safety in prisons will be boosted by the wider use of on body cameras in sites around the country.

"Frontline Corrections officers are well trained and resourced to deal with difficult situations in our prisons, but we remain focused on continually improving the safety of our staff and prisoners. These cameras will be another measure to de-escalate what can often be highly tense situations." Mr Lotu-Iiga said.

The decision to call for tenders for 1,000 cameras for use in high risk prison units will allow for on-body camera deployment by the end of March 2015 and all identified sites equipped with cameras by the end of September 2015.

"A six month trial of the cameras was conducted in high security Rimutaka Prison and maximum security Auckland Prison. The trial revealed that the use of cameras reduced the severity of incidents and allowed staff to use the footage in their debriefs, as evidence of misconduct, in staff development and prisoner coaching."

Around 30 staff and 300 prisoners were exposed to their use during the trial. The cameras were attached to the corrections officers’ lapels with a forward facing screen so that the prisoner could see themselves while being recorded.

Pushing the record button allows recording from that moment as well as the previous 30 seconds, as the cameras continually buffer and store their footage.

"There are a number of instances of prisoners deliberately tempering their challenging behaviours when confronted by the vision of themselves misbehaving," says Mr Lotu-Iiga.

Since 2009, personal protective equipment such as stab proof vests, batons and spit hoods have been available to custodial staff working in high risk situations. Pepper spray is also available in all prisons and staff have access to slash and needle resistant search gloves.

"I am encouraged by the overall results of the trial and I look forward to seeing more of these cameras in action as I make my way around corrections facilities in the months ahead."

Information on the camera tender can be found at: www.gets.govt.nz.

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