Beven Hanlon rushed of to the media, aided by staff, presumably, at Rimutaka prison about an apparent scandal that prisoners were being flown on scheduled flights.
Labour’s Jacinda Ardern was demanding answers as well, properly prepped by an incredulous Beven Hanlon who professes to know nothing about flights despite being the union boss for the Corrections Department.
Unfortunately for all concerned including a gullible media who went along with the scam this is a fairly common occurrence and was even covered by a comprehensive report into prisoner transport in 2007.
That would be the same 2007 where Helen Clark was still prime minister and Labour was the government.
The report was presented to and tabled in parliament and is a matter of public record. It was prepared and presented by John Belgrave, Chief Ombudsman and Mel Smith, Ombudsman.
On page 86 there is a section on prisoner transport by air, which states.
Transport of prisoners by air is common. In two sample 3 month periods for April–June in 2005 and 2006, there were 224 and 319 transports of prisoners by air.
These figures exclude exceptional flights for compassionate reasons, or urgent court orders to produce prisoners.
Air transport is used to move prisoners between North and South Islands, and within the North and South Islands where time factors demand. Additionally, there are certain situations where air transport is more economical than road – as where a very small number of prisoners need to be transferred from Auckland to Wellington.
Where transport is by air, the Department endeavours to move together only similar classes of prisoner. Segregation on board an aircraft does not normally arise. If segregation is required, separate escorting officers are used for the prisoners concerned. Only Corrections Officers act as escorts (as opposed to security officers).
Both charter flights and scheduled public flights are utilised. Between 1 June 2005 (commencement of the Corrections Act 2004) and 16 October 2006, there were 69 charter flights.
Further the report goes on:
Neither prisoners nor staff suggested that there were any reasons for concern about the conditions of air transport.
The report talks about any incidents that have occurred with transport via air.
Few incidents occur during air transport, and we were given no reason to believe that any systemic problems exist.
Between 1 June 2005 and 19 January 2007 there were three cases of prisoners damaging windows or panels on aircraft, and one incident where a prisoner visited the on board toilet in contravention of a “fasten seat belt” sign.
There have been no complaints to the Prison Inspectorate about air transport, and the Department is not aware of any complaints made by other avenues.
Beven Hanlon cannot claim to be in the dark about this at all…this report came about because of a very specific incident which Beven Hanlon knows all to well about…more on that in a separate post later.
Nonetheless Beven Hanlon still cannot claim to know nothing about either this report or the Air Transport details contained within the report.
In 2007 he was talking to Radio Live’s Marcus Lush about this exact report, when he was described as the Corrections Association’s Chief Executive.
He also spoke to the NZ Herald in 2007 about the report stating:
Corrections Association president Beven Hanlon said the transport system needed a decent overhaul.
He said every inmate should be restrained and the duty of shifting inmates should fall on corrections officers, rather than contracted security guards.
Presumably as the head of the union he would have a) been consulted on the contents of the report and b) given a copy of the report complete with details of the long standing air transport arrangements.
At best Beven Hanlon is forgetful, at worst he manufactured and lied to create a scandal knowing the full facts and is now exposed as a liar.
If only Fairfax journalist Shane Cowlishaw knew how to use Google they could have avoided being stung as well.