Corrections and Police failed to do their job - National MP Simeon Brown

By Marena Mane

Simeon Brown, National's MP for Pakuranga and Corrections and Police spokesman, says it's clear Corrections and Police failed to anticipate a Covid-19 scenario when a remand prisoner was transferred from a level 4 area to a level 2 environment.

“Firstly, it appears that the prisoner was not tested for Covid-19 on release. Secondly, the prisoner failed to actually comply with his conditions, which was to travel directly from the prison to his bail address, which was just outside Auckland.”

The remand prisoner, who tested positive for Covid-19 and infected three whānau members, made four stops on his way to his bail home in Whakatīwai, Waikato, after leaving the Mt Eden correctional facility earlier this month.

The man was most likely infected by someone he travelled home from jail with, according to Health director-general Ashley Bloomfield, and the Department of Corrections has said that it is sure the individual did not receive Covid-19 while incarcerated.

According to Brown, the remand prisoner was carrying a GPS tracker, which would have revealed him stopping at two private residences and a store, prompting police and corrections to investigate.

“Corrections and police from my perspective failed to plan for the scenario but should have realized that he breached his conditions immediately, and then followed up on that instantly, rather than waiting 11 days.”

Brown claims that the police and Corrections are responsible for following up on any violations of people's bail terms and that electronic monitoring might have prevented this since they would have been aware of his whereabouts.

“They should have been monitoring that individual as he travelled out of Auckland, and then followed up immediately if there were any breaches and, as we now find out, there are four breaches that could have been dealt with in a very different situation.”

Brown claims Corrections and police may have already known about this but probably decided that it wasn’t something that they were concerned about.

“We're all acting like we may have Covid ourselves. They should have been acting as if this prisoner could have picked it up or had it, or should have been applying level four conditions, all the way to his house.”

Brown says that Coromandel MP Scott Simpson will be questioning the Minister of Corrections during question time in Parliament tomorrow.

“We've got many, many questions that we want to have answered on this particular issue.”