Armed inmates attack guards at Christchurch prison

Inmates at Christchurch Men's prison fashioned a pipe-gun from an air compressor and attacked prison buildings and vehicles.

The prison went into lockdown and police were called to resolve the incident on Monday, which is thought to have been triggered by outrage at a random contraband search.

A prison source, who declined to be named, said the incident began in the prison workshop about 10am.

Prisoners fashioned the gun from a length of pipe and fired the weapon at the Kotuku Unit in which they lived after they noticed a random search.

The prison's dog-handler vehicle at the scene was also fired on. The source said staff were ordered to take refuge in a guardroom.

Canterbury Prison Services assistant regional manager Ian Bourke said although shots were fired and the incident was potentially dangerous, "no-one was rolling around on the floor playing Rambo" and it was "not the shootout at the OK Corral".

Bourke said shots landing on the roof of the Kotuku Unit alerted prison guards, who locked down the prison and the workshop within 15 minutes.

The shots "suggested it was an act of objection to the contraband search" rather than a means of warning other prisoners that a search was imminent, he said.

Bourke said prisoners who worked in the workshop were screened for suitability, but "regrettably one, or a small group of prisoners, has reacted to the contraband search in this manner".

Three instructors supervised the engineering workshop, he said.

The incident was "well-managed", with the workshop secured within five minutes.

Even determining who the perpetrators were would be a hard task for police, he said, and the Corrections Department was also investigating.

Bourke is awaiting a report on contraband found in Monday's search.


The Press