Investigations launched after claims of managed isolation security guards falling asleep on the job

Multiple investigations are underway after complaints were made about eight different incidents of security guards sleeping while on duty at managed isolation hotels. 

Newshub has been told part of the problem is that some private security staff are also moonlighting as taxi drivers, after their 12-hour shift at the hotels. 

In the midst of a pandemic, staying alert while guarding returnees is of paramount importance but some involved in security have apparently been indulging in a siesta. 

"If the allegations are correct, clearly it is not acceptable, that we expect people who are doing their jobs to be awake," the minister in charge of managed isolation Megan Woods said.

But according to a guest at the Novotel, staying awake has absolutely been a problem for the guards. 

"I've noticed the guards outside asleep. They're constantly on their phones. They seem incredibly distracted and bored," Jane told Newshub.

She said she has laid a formal complaint but has had no response.

Newshub has also been told about the sleep-deprived security from a Government worker at another managed isolation facility.

"Sleeping on the job is common," they said. 

"Private security personnel are simply not competent enough to be tasked with such important responsibilities. They spend their work time on their mobile phones or having a nap." 

Our source also offered an insight into why some get tired.

"Many I have spoken to have a second job driving taxis after their 12-hour shift."

Newshub can reveal seven incidents of private security guards falling asleep are being investigated and the Aviation Security Service is also investigating an allegation that one of its staff may have drifted off. 

The 8 incidents are alleged to have happened at 3 different isolation sites. 

First Security, which is doing a lot of work at managed isolation facilities across the country, said "it is aware of some claims of inattentive staff" and is investigating this. 

The company says, "We take performance issues very seriously and always take appropriate action". 

The Government says there's no need to worry about the workers allegedly falling asleep, as if one layer of security fails, they have police and defence on duty too, but National isn't convinced.

"We should worry because if the border is breached through quarantine, there is the possibility of community contagion. That's why Australia is now having such a huge amount of trouble," Gerry Brownlee, National's COVID border spokesperson, said.

He said the quarantine system is costing hundreds of millions "and it needs to be a bit better than a Dad's Army operation that we seem to be seeing at the moment". 

Woods says the Government will become increasingly reliant on private security firms at its 32 isolation sites.

The Aviation Security Service is pulling out of security roles in Hamilton and Rotorua, so staff can focus on the increasing demand for screening at airports.

However, the Government says its organising new security roles for each facility.

"This week the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has started appointing site security managers into each isolation facility", a Managed Isolation and Quarantine Spokesperson told Newshub.

"They will be responsible for onsite behaviour of security staff, irrespective of which organisation provides the staff."