Officers from Surrey Pretrial Services Centre rallied outside of the centre on Friday (March 8) about the “unmanageable levels” of inmate-to-officer ratios at B.C. prisons. (Photo: Lauren Collins)

VIDEO: Officers rally as violence in B.C. jails hit all-time high

Inmate-to-officer ratio is ‘now as high as 72:1’: BCGEU

An officer with the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union says violence in jails is at an “all-time high” over the past five years and the inmate-to-officer ratios are at “unmanageable levels.”

Correctional officers were rallying outside of Surrey Pretrial Centre Friday morning (March 8) to bring attention to the rapidly increasing incidents of violence against correctional officers. Between 30 to 40 officers turned out for the rally.

Dean Purdy, B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU) vice-president for corrections and sheriff services, said prison violence has increased over the last five years at all seven of the province’s maximum-security jails, but the Surrey Pretrial Services Centre has probably had the most violence out of any of the jails.”

In a news release from the BCGEU, it says that prior to 2001, the inmate-to-officer ration in B.C.’s correctional facilities was capped at 20:1. The ratio, the release says, “is now as high as 72:1,” adding that recent statistics from Corrections BC “show that assaults on officers and inmate-on-inmate violence continues to rise.”

The 72:1 ration, Purdy said, is at “unmanageable levels.”

Purdy said the BCGEU has met with the NDP government and Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth about needing two correctional officers in every living unit.

“We’ve given (Farnworth) some ideas on what needs to be done to try and get out in front of the violence,” Purdy said. “We’re hopeful – we’re going to give it some time – but we’re really at wits end right now. We need some changes and we know that the real issues is the officer-to-inmate ratios.”

Purdy said that the officers know that 95 per cent of the violence “is typically done by three to five per cent of the inmates.”

“We’re saying those 95 per cent (who aren’t violent), treat them differently from the three to five per cent,” he said.

Purdy said there also needs to be more support for correctional officers who have to use force, adding that a lot of this push for better ratios started when eight correctional officers were fired from Fraser Regional Correctional Centre in Maple Ridge.

RELATED: Guards protest firing of fellow officers charged with assault at B.C. prison

A recent audit of B.C.’s prison system finds that more inmates sharing living units than the B.C. Corrections set as its target of 32 per cent four years ago. Surrey Pretrial Centre was fourth highest at 49 per cent.

RELATED: B.C. officers to protest violence against prison guards

RELATED: ‘Double-bunking’ still a problem for B.C. provincial jails

– With a file from Tom Fletcher



lauren.collins@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Lauren on Twitter

Just Posted

Province announces $18.6 million for B.C. Search and Rescue

The funding, spread over three years, to pay for operations, equipment, and training

Update: Highway 3 reopened following rockslide near Keremeos

The slide occurred Friday March 22, at about 8 p.m. between Red Bridge and Standing Rock

Active burn pile prompts firefighter response in Salmon Arm

Reports of residential fire, thick smoke was from burning construction material

Rock slide forces rural Keremeos residents to leave their homes

Witness describes boulders bigger than her car

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: goodbye sun, hello rain

Environement Canada forcasts clouds and rain for the weekend and beyond

Stolen Bentley spotted going wrong way down highway found in Summerland

The car has been recorded going the wrong way on the Coquihalla, found two days later

Okanagan woman launches sewing studio

“I know there’s a lot of people up and down the valley that would love to sew.”

1,300 cruise ship passengers rescued by helicopter amid storm off Norway’s coast

Rescue teams with helicopters and boats were sent to evacuate the cruise ship under extremely difficult circumstances

Former Okanagan teen found safe after disappearing from YVR airport

Ethan Burnett, 14, was found safe in Kelowna on March 22

B.C. university to offer first graduate program on mindfulness in Canada

University of the Fraser Valley says the mostly-online program focuses on self-care and well being

Vernon road closed again following landslide

The road that was reopened Thursday morning was closed again Friday following geotechnical engineer report.

Late-season wave of the flu makes its round in B.C.

BC Centre for Disease Control reported 50 per cent jump in flu cases in first weeks of March

Tofino’s housing crisis causing some to seek shelter at the local hospital

Tofino’s housing crisis is pushing the town’s ‘hidden homeless’ population into the forefront.

Sentencing judge in Broncos crash calls for carnage on highways to end

Judge Inez Cardinal sentenced Jaskirat Singh Sidhu to eight years

Most Read