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Two gang members among prison volunteers

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 8/11/2016

A review of nearly 7000 volunteers providing services in prisons has found only two to be active gang members, the Corrections Department says.

It says the pair's status to visits prison has been revoked.

Chief executive Ray Smith initiated the review in July after a volunteer in Whanganui Prison was revealed to have been an active gang member.

The review's aim was to establish whether any existing volunteers and other specified visitors were current members of gangs.

Specified visitors include contracted providers, chaplains, researchers and others.

Mr Smith says the review examined 6985 specified visitors to identify any possible gang association, by using Corrections databases, Gang Intelligence Centre databases, social media and other sources.

It found that 76 individuals (about one per cent) had some form of current or historical gang association.

Of the 76, two were found to have active gang membership.

One of them had not disclosed the extent of his membership to the department. The other was a gang associate who had a conviction for methamphetamine production.

Mr Smith said the review also produced 11 recommendations to improve the process for vetting, induction and training for external providers.

He said the recommendations were being implemented over a three-month period with police assistance.

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