Hawke’s Bay Prison standoff may bring charges

Police say charges are likely for the prisoners involved in a roof-top standoff at Hawke’s Bay Regional Prison this week.

Hastings CIB detectives yesterday interviewed the five inmates who allegedly staged the dramatic roof-top protest.

Senior Sergeant Luke Shadbolt said charges were likely after the 23-hour incident.

“The prison may impose its own internal charges too, but we’re investigating whether any criminal charges should be laid,” Mr Shadbolt said. “I dare say charges will follow what happened. At this stage it’s very early on in the process.”

Hastings Police Detective Senior Sergeant Dave de Lange said the police investigation would take a few more days as CCTV footage was reviewed and staff and prisoners were interviewed further.

The protest began at 5pm on Tuesday when one prisoner, after being told his security rating was to be increased, allegedly rallied 11 others to protest the decision with him. Overnight, seven of those inmates were detained and five somehow made their way on to the roof via the roof cavity. The prison was put on lock-down as guards adorned riot gear, but by Wednesday lunchtime only four remained, and at 4pm they, too, surrendered.

Department of Corrections chief executive Ray Smith said all 12 involved were still detained at the prison, but the main instigator would be moved to a maximum security facility and 11 others could face the same consequence.

“The actions the prisoner took to encourage the 11 other prisoners into protesting has demonstrated that the decision to reclassify him was the right one,” he said.

“The other 11 prisoners who took part will now also have their security classifications reviewed.

“Where the prisoners are accommodated in future will depend on their resulting security classifications.

Any necessary transfer will take into consideration police’s inquiries.”

Mr Smith said internal prison charges on top of police charges and security reclassifications were also a possibility for the protesters.

“All prisoners can face internal misconduct charges,” he said.

“If they are found guilty they face a range of disciplinary actions and sanctions including cell confinement, loss of privileges or loss of earnings from prison-based employment.”

Mr Smith said it was not yet known how the five prisoners made it on to the roof, as the matter was still being investigated and the area was now an official police crime scene.

“The incident itself was isolated and affected only one wing of 12 cells, which remains closed.”

However, he said the prisoners caused superficial damage by breaking furniture, pieces of which were thought to be the weapons the men were wielding.

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