Claims Corrections trials showed bracelets could be cut

Claims Corrections trials showed bracelets could be cut

A whistle blower has revealed an internal Corrections Department trial of the new, stronger electronic monitoring bracelets found they could be cut off in just 57 seconds.

The bracelets were heralded by Corrections Minister Judith Collins as close to uncuttable – she said the new ones were unlikely to be able to be cut off without the help of a chainsaw.

"So they have a choice, leg or no leg."

But her department knew that wasn't correct because it had trialled them and filmed it.

An internal Corrections source has told Newshub the department tested the new bracelets in June by picking "six or seven" of the "biggest, strongest guys" who work for Corrections.

The men were taken into a room individually and given a pair of household scissors. All of them were able to cut through the bracelet, which was attached to their ankles with the "required tightness", said the source.

The fastest person to cut through the bracelet was a 1.9 metres tall "Corrections adviser". He took just 57 seconds.

A number of female staff also attempted to cut through the bracelet. They all failed, according to the Corrections source.

After Ms Collins made the "uncuttable" claim, TV3's Story took on her challenge and cameraman Billy Weepu cut through the bracelet after reporter Dan Parker failed to do so.

The source said the rollout of the bracelets was delayed for two weeks after what happened on Story. The bracelets faced two weeks of further checks but they were later given the tick of approval.

The provider of the bracelets apparently never made the claim they were "uncuttable" and the whistle blower says in internal documents states the bracelets can be cut off in around 60 seconds.

This person has also raised questions about the quality of the monitoring service once the bracelets are cut. They say if the phone alert is not answered within two minutes, the monitoring service must leave a message and then a Corrections response team returns the call. Then police are called.

The first of the new bracelets were rolled out to only the most serious of offenders last week.

Newshub is awaiting a response from Corrections.