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Correctional officers rally in Abbotsford to protest rise in workplace violence

Click to play video: 'B.C. corrections officers demand safer working conditions'
B.C. corrections officers demand safer working conditions
B.C. corrections officers say their job is becoming more dangerous than ever, and they're demanding changes to the system to keep them safe. Kristen Robinson reports – Apr 18, 2024

More than 100 correctional officers gathered in Abbotsford, B.C., on Thursday to protest working conditions.

The Union of Canadian Correctional Officers said the protest was meant to highlight violence its members have to deal with while on the job.

The officers gathered at a parking lot at the Correctional Service of Canada’s Pacific Region Headquarters.

Click to play video: 'Drones at prisons flying in the face of authorities'
Drones at prisons flying in the face of authorities

B.C.’s regional union president John Randle said there has been a significant increase in violent incidents in prisons within the province.

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“Numbers have over doubled in the last five years of assaults on correctional officers and yet the service does nothing,” Randle said.

“Correctional officers are serious and were not going to take a s—-y contract. We’re here to fight.”

Randle said daily drone drops are creating massive issues within the prison system, as there has been a flood of drugs and weapons through the deliveries.

The union says its officers are frequently subjected to assaults, resulting in physical and mental injuries.

Over the fiscal year 2022 to 2023, it said more than 9,100 violent incidents had been reported.

That represents a more than 45 per cent increase from the previous year.

“We acknowledge that correctional staff have challenging jobs, and we appreciate the work they do everyday to keep our employees and Canadians safe,” a spokesperson for the Correctional Service of Canada said in a statement.

Click to play video: 'Drones at prisons flying in the face of authorities'
Drones at prisons flying in the face of authorities

“Several measures are in place to protect the safety and security of staff. This includes the appropriate security placement of offenders, an engagement and intervention model, drug detection and identification tools and ongoing staff training.

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“Frontline Correctional Officers are qualified to use, and are provided with, the necessary security equipment to ensure their safety and security in institutions, including protective vests, self-defence tools, and restraint equipment.”

The union has been vocal in the past, saying B.C. prisons need more correctional officers on duty as well as new technology to stop drone deliveries.

Correctional Service Canada said it has a “multi-prong approach to mitigate the risks of contraband.”

“This includes intelligence investigations, searches of offenders and their cells, technology, and through the use of tools such as ion scanners and detector dogs,” the spokesperson said.

With files from the Canadian Press

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