Preventing escapes

We’ve introduced a number of operational and security improvements to help minimise escapes and the rate of escapes from prison has been steadily declining.

Escapes are often driven by the need to see family members or resolve problems outside prison. People may also have problems accepting the sentence and the prison environment.

Types of escapes

Break out

A prisoner breaches the security of a prison, court complex or other place of custodial control and leaves. For example, forced exits from prison or escape from custodial staff, or escape while under the direct control of a corrections officer.

Non-return from temporary release

A prisoner does not return to prison at the appointed time following temporary release.

Other escapes

  • Walk-away escapes can happen when a low security prisoner breaches trust by walking away from their supervision.
  • Escapes while under escort can occur when prisoners are travelling to and from court.

What happens when a prisoner escapes

In the event of an escape, the police are notified immediately and prison management inform key people within the surrounding community. The risk for prison neighbours is generally very low as escapees aim to leave the area as quickly and as unobtrusively as possible.

Prison management investigates all escapes. When a prisoner is recaptured, staff will interview them to find out the reasons for their escape. We use this information to ensure security breaches, and any other factors, are addressed to prevent a repeat occurrence.

What we do to prevent escapes

Taking measures to prevent escapes is a priority for Corrections.

We establish and maintain a secure environment at prisons through a combination of management practices and physical security features and systems. These reflect the level of risk related to the prisoners’ security classifications.

Staff also work closely with prisoners to identify problems within the prison or outside (such as a relationship break-up) so that they can be dealt with – without resorting to escaping.

Regional prisons

Another initiative to minimise escapes is by keeping prisoners close to home. By accommodating as many people as possible closer to their home areas, they can see their families more often. This creates the most stable social environment possible, and makes it less likely they’ll feel the need to escape to sort out problems at home.

How many offenders have escaped?

Graph showing escape rates from 2007 - 2012 remaining constant.

Source: 2011/12 Annual Report.

The most recent information on escape rates in prisons can be found in our latest Annual Report.

Levels of escape from prison have remained relatively consistent over the past five years. In the 2011/12 year three remand prisoners escaped from prison. One of these incidents was from Mt Eden Corrections Facility, and two were from Waikeria Prison.