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More Police, More Prisons, Help For Parole

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

By Kevin Norquay of NZPA

Wellington, May 28 NZPA - More police on the beat, more double bunking at prisons to lock up those they catch, and help for the Parole Board all feature in today's budget.

Funding of $385.4 million over the next four years would help cope with forecast increases in the prison population, Corrections Minister Judith Collins said.

Increased funding for double bunking at five prisons -- which prison officers argue make their jobs dangerous by increasing prisoner unrest -- is a feature of the budget.

Some $218.6m in operational funding over four years, and $145.8m in capital funding from 2009-2011 would address the "immediate need for prison accommodation", Ms Collins said.

That money had been allocated for increased double bunking at five prisons, she said.

Double bunking would be used at the Northland, Auckland women's, Spring Hill (North Waikato), Otago and Mt Eden prisons.

It would add nearly 1000 beds at those prisons. Double bunking would start next year.

"The cost per bed will be considerably less than building a new prison," Ms Collins said.

"The Government will ensure the Department of Corrections has the money to plan and build the extra beds needed to keep pace with prisoner numbers," she said.

Some $24m in capital funding was allocated over 2008-2010 for designing and planning extra prison capacity in the upper North Island.

The Government would put 600 more police on the streets by the end of 2011, Ms Collins said.

There would be 300 extra frontline officers in Counties-Manukau by the end of next year, and 300 more across the rest of the country by the end of 2011.

The budget set aside $162.5m in operating funding over four years for police recruitment, training, personnel costs and deployment.

Parole initiatives arising from attempts to improve the operation of parole, following a critical report by the auditor general -- saw the Government inject $255.9m into the probation service.

The report had said the Community Probation and Psychological Services (CPPS) had 10 percent fewer probation officers than it needed, due to the increasing numbers of offenders on community sentences.

The total extra funding included $205m in operating spending over four years, and $50.9m in capital spending over two years.

Operating funding would allow CPPS to hire an extra 134 probation officers, 26 front-line managers, and 20 psychologists.

That would ensure CPPS could effectively manage almost 100,000 sentences and orders each year, Ms Collins said.

Another $71.2m in operating funding had been approved over four years to recruit an extra 112 probation officers, three front-line managers and three psychologists to improve the quality of parole and home detention management.


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