Corrections bus to be scrapped after inmates riot

Last updated 05:00 07/03/2014

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A Corrections bus set upon by rioting prisoners after it broke down on the Desert Road is so badly damaged it will not be fixed.

The bus was travelling from Auckland to Rimutaka Prison on January 15, carrying 20 prisoners, including two with a maximum-security rating, when it encountered mechanical difficulties.

It stopped near the Three Sisters, about 30 kilometres south of Turangi, at 5pm. The prisoners became restless and smashed several windows. It is also understood seats were ripped up and prisoners came close to getting into the driver's cage.

A repair truck was backed against the bus to contain the prisoners, and four police cars plus extra Corrections officers were sent to the bus.

The road was closed briefly and the bus, which was seven years old, was repaired after several hours and driven to Tongariro Rangipo prison.

Information provided to Labour Corrections spokeswoman Jacinda Ardern shows the repairs are estimated to cost $22,000.

Because of this, and the age of the bus, a decision has been made to replace it rather than fix it.

Ardern also asked Corrections how many times the bus had broken down before. Corrections replied that, between June 2012 and January 15, it had required repairs, such as responding to a flat battery, nine times.

She said it seemed a particularly high number of repairs for a vehicle of its age, and it was important to know whether there had been any warning signs before the Desert Road breakdown.

"Obviously it was a particularly serious incident and what's important for us to understand is was this a preventable situation because it put the safety of Corrections officers at huge risk."

Corrections declined to answer questions from The Dominion Post because a report into the incident had not been completed.

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- The Dominion Post

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