All frontline Corrections officers are to get new lightweight stab-resistant body armour, in a move that comes after the death of an inmate at Christchurch Men's Prison.

Corrections Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga said yesterday that 3500 new vests would be issued to all frontline custodial staff from next month.

"While stabbing incidents involving frontline staff are low, it is a priority for our Government to keep our Corrections officers safe," he said.

The new body armour is lighter, less bulky and more comfortable than our current stab-resistant body armour. [It] is also designed to be used in conjunction with on-body cameras which are being rolled out.

The new body armour was designed for use in high-risk prison environments, Mr Lotu-Iiga said.


The provision of personal-issue body armour for all frontline custodial staff means all officers will have a vest available when they are working in these environments.

Benton Marni Parata was allegedly attacked in his cell at Christchurch Men's Prison on March 25. He died in hospital five days later and three prisoners have been charged in relation to his death.

Parata's death sparked several violent incidents at Christchurch Men's Prison, prompting the Corrections Association to raise safety concerns and call for prison staff to be better protected.

Several prison staff have been assaulted by prisoners in recent years and in 2010 Spring Hill Prison guard Jason Palmer, 33, died a day after being punched by inmate Latu Kepu.