Corrections Minister's 'worst case scenario' of prisoners sleeping on gym floors sparks shock and surprise

First it was double bunking, now the Government is floating the idea of prisoners sleeping on mattresses on the floor of jail gymnasiums.

Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis's suggestion has sparked shock and surprise just a day after a scaled-down plan for Waikeria Prison was unveiled.

"In a worst case scenario if there weren't enough beds in a prison then we'd have to look all available spaces in a prison. And so places such as the prison gymnasium might have to be used a mass dormitory and there may have to be mattresses on the floor," Mr Davis said.

It was an idea that could occur following a natural disaster, it was stressed. 

National's police spokesman Chris Bishop says the idea is astonishing and he's told the Government to "swallow your pride, build the prison".

As jails struggle to cope with the increasing prison population, the Government has rejected National's plan for a mega prison in Waikeria, south of Hamilton, opting instead to build a new 600-bed facility and mental health unit. 

And it wants to reduce the number of prisoners by 30 per cent in the next 15 years.

The Corrections Minister describes the gym proposal as an "ugly solution".

"We don't think that we're going to get to a situation where we don't have enough beds," Mr Davis said.

Tania Sawicki Mead, director of the justice lobby group Just Speak says the idea is degrading.

"It's not acceptable to put people in situations which degrade their human dignity, and sleeping on a gymnasium floor is one obvious instance of that," she said. 

As Labour vows to reduce the prison population, it's also promising to put an extra 1800 police officers on the beat - 700 of those will be focused on going after the gangs.

National says that will surely lead to an increase in the prison population and the pledges don't add up.

"The Minister wants to smash the gangs, he wants to lock up criminal gang members. That's great, but you've also got to build the prison capacity," Mr Bishop said.

Police Minister Stuart Nash said: "You get on top of the meth crime, you take out the guys who are dealing meth, who are driving meth into our communities, then what you end up doing is preventing a whole lot of crime that goes on."

The Police Commissioner, Mike Bush, is confident more cops won't lead to more prisoners.

"We have the operating model to ensure that doesn't occur. And we have proved in the past, in Counties Manukau, that it didn't occur," he said.

Kelvin Davis called the gym proposal an "ugly solution", but one that could occur following a natural disaster. Source: 1 NEWS

Watch: 'It's a matter of turning it on' - Speaker tells off MPs over ear pieces, asks Winston Peters to practise being 'kind' before taking up Acting PM role

Speaker Trevor Mallard has told off several MPs after they misplaced their ear pieces in Parliament today.

The incident occurred after MP Gerry Brownlee interrupted Associate Minister of Education Kelvin Davis, who was speaking in Te Reo Māori, to announce that some of the desks did not have the ear pieces required to hear the interpretation.

"Mr Speaker, it is not a member's responsibility to provide the facilities in here. That's a ridiculous thing to say," Mr Brownlee said furiously. 

"Every member at the beginning of the Parliament was provided with an ear piece which plugs in to the thing between himself and the honourable QC beside him—" Mr Mallard responded.

He was cut off by MP Christopher Finlayson, who said Mr Mallard was being "a smart alec".

"That's totally offensive, and the tone in which you used it," Mr Finlayson said.

Mr Mallard asked the MPs if it was his responsibility for members losing their translation ear pieces, to which some shouted, 'Yes'.

After a brief clash with Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters over the incident, Mr Mallard responded, "I just want to say to the Deputy Prime Minister, that is not helpful, and I think he should practise being kind for when he is the Acting Prime Minister."


Pedestrian dies following crash involving vehicle in Napier

A person is dead after an incident involving a car and pedestrian in Napier. 

The incident occurred on Maadi Road, in Onekawa, just before 4pm today.

The male pedestrian died, police say.