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Collins accused of trying to hide prison antics

A letter sent to all MPs from the Corrections Minister telling them they should contact her office before visiting prisons has sparked outrage from the Greens.

Judith Collins’ letter says "there are certain expectations and protocols that should be followed when arranging a visit to a prison, or when raising issues on behalf of offenders, designed to keep everyone safe."

The advice includes telling MPs requests for visits should be made through her office, reasonable notice should be given and they should familiarise themselves with prohibited items.

Police Minister Judith Collins says gangs are working together to distribute methamphetamine.
Source: 1 NEWS

Green MP David Clendon has accused her of trying to hide what is going on in prisons.

"To my mind, the tone of the letter is the minister trying to control or manage MPs entry into prison," Mr Clendon says.

He says that's against the spirit and intent of the law which says MPs should be able to visit.

If he's making a routine visit to a prison, he does normally approach the minister's office beforehand.

But he says the letter goes further than that.

"I frankly will completely ignore that instruction from the minister, she has no right to give it."

Asked about the timing of the letter, he thinks it's part of a "defensive strategy to try and lower the curtain" in prisons following a series of scandals in prisons.

But Ms Collins has laughed the accusations off.

I frankly will completely ignore that instruction from the minister, she has no right to give it - David Clendon, Green MP

She says there's nothing suspicious about the timing of the letter and she sent it out because there are a number of new MPs who may not be aware of the guidelines.

"What we try and do is encourage visits to prisons, but we also want to make sure those visits are as good as they can be," Ms Collins says.

There has been problems in the past with some MPs visits, but she says she's not going to "name and shame" them.

"I don't have too much time to worry about what someone is doing."

"I think they are a bit worried about being worried, aren't they?" she says about the Greens' claims.