Corrections silent on men's motivation

23:00, Dec 13 2012

The two inmates who camped out on a roof at Manawatu Prison are to have their security classification reviewed after a more than 24-hour standoff with Corrections officers.

The prison was back to business as usual today after the impasse ended at 5.40pm yesterday when the last of the men came down from the roof of an exercise yard.

The other prisoner had been assisted down by staff at 4pm and was taken to Palmerston North Hospital after injuring himself on the razor wire that surrounds the prison roof. He was discharged at 7pm yesterday.

He had not injured himself attempting to escape, prison manager Peter Howe said.

The men gained access to the roof at 3pm on Wednesday and spent the night there.

A Corrections spokeswoman said the department operation was supported by the police, army and the Fire Service. There had been no threat to public safety or any possibility the pair would escape.


A review of their security classification would be carried out to determine if and where they would be moved, but details of the movements of individual prisoners would not be released, she said.

Mr Howe would not comment on the reason for the men's incarceration, how long they had been imprisoned or what sparked the incident.

Food and water were visible in aerial photographs taken of the rooftop yesterday morning. Mr Howe said it appeared the prisoners had stockpiled the refreshments themselves.

He did not know how much they had stockpiled or how long they had intended to stay on the roof.

The last prisoner to come down was still in good spirits last night after his fellow inmate was coaxed off the roof, Mr Howe said.

Airspace restrictions put in place over Manawatu Prison yesterday at the request of police have been lifted.

Corrections staff were in negotiations with the two men since Wednesday afternoon but Mr Howe would not say if the prisoners had made any demands.

Nine police officers were initially positioned at the entrances to the prison, and a police liaison was inside with negotiators after the men made their break for the roof. Visitors to the prison were being turned away, with police telling them the area was in lockdown for an unknown amount of time.

Corrections staff were also posted at the entrances with police.

Their numbers were reduced later on Wednesday night, and by yesterday morning two police cars remained to guard the roads meeting the cordons until the second man came down.

No details of the prisoner's identities could be released at this stage.

An investigation into the incident would be launched to establish how the prisoners gained access to the roof area, but Corrections are unable to say how long the investigation will take.

Manawatu Standard