The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) is charged with protecting the country, but one military base seems to have a problem protecting itself.
Information released under the Official Information Act shows Linton Military Camp had four people walk onto their grounds in 2016, with one person being a member of the infamous Mongrel Mob.
All that separates Linton Military Camp from the rest of the world is a fence made out of a post and wire stock fence, a portion of deer fencing, and a residential profile aluminium fence.
A perimeter risk assessment that was conducted at Linton in 2014 showed it had remained virtually unchanged over the past two decades and was not a deterrence or delay for potential intruders.
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However, the NZDF confirmed that is about to change as a security upgrade is finally scheduled for Linton Military Camp.
But this isn’t the first camp to encounter security issues.
In 2016, stolen NZDF weapon components worth $64,000 were left scattered on a rural North Island road.
A contractor working in the armoury at Waiouru was blamed and suspended from work on full pay, after a search of his home led to the seizure of more “items of interest”.
The NZDF declined to say if munitions are stored at Linton.
But in the New Zealand Defence Estate Regeneration plan, which shows how the NZDF is set to spend $1.7 billon allocated to them over the next 17 years, $10 million is earmarked to upgrade offices and ammunitions storage facilities at Linton.
In 2016, police were asked to do a crime scan and reported there had been a noticeable increase in violence, drug and dishonesty offences in the surrounding area.
About a quarter of the Manawatu Prison population had self-reported gang affiliations and the OIA said known gang members lived very close to Linton Military Camp.
Military Police recorded three incidents of people breaking into Linton Military Camp in 2016 in an attempt to smuggle contraband into Manawatu Prison, which is only separated by a chain-link fence with three strands of barbed wire.
One of these involved a gang associate, who admitted to being part of the Mongrel Mob.
Prison security staff reported that contraband coming into the prison was an increasing problem.
Manawatu Prison director Mark Cookson said there were a number of ways the prisoners could introduce contraband into the prison.
This included concealment in vehicles and products, internal concealment on an offenders body, incoming mail and being thrown over the fence.
“Some prisoners will go to extreme lengths to introduce contraband and as some prison perimeter fences are close to areas that can be accessed by the public, prisoners’ associates may attempt ‘throw-overs’,” said Cookson.
They welcomed any plans to strengthen the fencing surrounding the camp to minimise the ability of contraband being introduced into the prison.
However, the NZDF believes a fence would not stop unauthorised entry, but acknowledged in past experiences it reduced offending.
Trentham Military Camp received a fence in 1995 and Defence HQ received a fence in 2006.
Both bases noted a reduction in minor offending after the fences were built.
An upgrade to Linton’s security it set for late 2017, to be finished by 2018.
“Components of the project will include a perimeter fence, enhanced CCTV surveillance and front and rear gate hardening.”
* April 2016, three people were observed climbing over a camp gate.
* August 2016, two men were caught throwing items over the wall around Manawatu Prison. One of them admitted to being associated with the Mongrel Mob.
* August 2016, another person was caught within the camp grounds throwing something into the prison.
* September 2016, an individual was caught within the camp before they could throw something over the prison wall.
* October 2016, an individual was caught trespassing and breaching a banning order. The breach consisted of a gang member who had been banned from camp requesting and being granted access to camp to speak to a member of the military police.