The government is undertaking an upgrade of the Niue prison in what is a two-phase project.
The Niue Police department is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the prison facilities.
According to the Chief of Police Timothy Wilson the first phase which started a couple of weeks ago renewed old electrical wiring in the prison which had been a hazard for some time.
The leaking roof will be renewed as soon as the materials are available.
The second phase of the prison upgrade is a much bigger part to ensure the safety and security of the prisoners.
Chief Wilson says that “There is another plan being submitted to do some upgrades to the prison, with toilets inside making it more secure and better-living conditions for the prisoners”.
Hon. Crossley Tatui, Minister of Finance and Infrastructure said in a statement to BCN news that he has seen the condition of the prison and the problems needs fixing.
Chief Wilson says that “Currently we have three people living there, one is going to be there for another month or two, one is pending trial and could potentially be there for a long time and we have another one who is sentenced to a year. So, I think this is the first time in a long time that we’ve actually had long term people staying at the prison and multiple long-term people staying in the prison which is why this has become more of a priority at this point”.
Several years ago, there was an incident where a prisoner committed suicide while staying at the prison and so to avoid a repeat of that, the second phase of the prison upgrade will also include suicide proofing the prison cells.
Chief Wilson said that “The Police’s priority for the jail is to make sure that the prisoners are safe from themselves and from other people. You can see that the prison is very open, a very old layout which doesn’t really do a lot for security so there are proposals to do things to boost the security. There is a move to move the power points out of the cells and to make those more suicide proof. The other one is closing off the open area in the prison to prevent somebody else from coming into the prison. So, security and suicide proofing the cells are all part of the plans”.
Chief Wilson told BCN News that because there were long periods when there were no prisoners, maintenance of the facility was not a priority which led to the status it is now.