Ngawha Prison, where a prisoner on a short-term transfer climbed on to the roof on Wednesday. Photo / NZME
An inmate who got on the roof at Ngawha Prison somehow climbed from the exterior of his unit, according to the Department of Corrections.
The man climbed on to the roof about 2pm on Wednesday and a prison negotiation team was brought in to help bring him down.
He had left the roof by evening, and Corrections said early indications were he wanted nicotine lozenges.
Corrections northern regional commissioner Sean Mason said the prisoner was at the Ngawha Prison only temporarily.
“The person . . . was on a short-term transfer at Northland Region Corrections Facility [NRCF] for a scheduled in-person court appearance.
“In the interests of public safety, operational security and ongoing matters before the court, Corrections is not able to provide any comment on the specific management of this person.
“This person has now appeared in court and is on his way back to the site he was transferred from.”
Mason said there had been no threat to the wider security of the prison or the public. The prisoner was able to gain access to the roof from the exterior of the prison unit, but how the prisoner got outside is unclear.
“As we’ve previously noted, we’re undertaking a review into the latest incident at NRCF to understand exactly how this occurred,” he said.
The incident followed a similar one in May, where an inmate from a different unit was on the roof for 18 hours. This prisoner in that case got on to the roof without getting outside.
The review into that incident concluded that staff did not correctly account for prisoners at lock-up and the prisoner was not secured in his cell, Mason said.
“The prisoner was therefore able to gain access to the roof of the unit by causing damage to the interior of the unit.
“As a result of the review, staff were reminded of the requirements to ensure prisoners were all accounted for before finishing lock up.”
The prisoner eventually left the roof voluntarily and was transferred to Auckland Prison afterwards. Another prisoner climbed on to Ngawha Prison’s roof in 2018, because he was unhappy about being sent to another jail.
And in 2014, a yet another prisoner spent two days and one night on the roof.
The latest roof incident came the day before Community Corrections workers voted to strike three times over the next month, a move which would largely affect parole, electronic monitoring and community work crews.
Although prison officers will still be working, prison programmes will not run during strike action.