Province creates new team to improve security in correctional facilities

Move aims to enhance safety for staff

Province creates new team to improve security in correctional facilities

Ontario establishing new Institutional Security Teams to ensure the safety of workers at the Central North Correctional Centre in Penetanguishene and Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay.

These teams will consist of specially trained correctional officers who gather information within correctional facilities to help prevent human trafficking, drug trafficking and detect contraband items. This information is shared with justice partners, including police services, to assist in the investigation of criminal activities within Ontario's adult correctional institutions.

“Keeping drugs, weapons, and gang activity out of our facilities is critical to ensuring a safe environment for our correctional staff and for inmates,” said Sylvia Jones, solicitor general. “Our government has seen success with the Institutional Security Teams launched since 2019, which is why we are investing to equip correctional officers with the expertise they need to stop crime before it happens in more correctional communities.”

Institutional Security Teams are currently in place at the Niagara Detention Centre, Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre, Hamilton-Wentworth Detention Centre, Maplehurst Correctional Complex, Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre, Toronto East Detention Centre and Toronto South Detention Centre.

Correctional officers in Western Canada fear that fentanyl use by prisoners in holding facilities is putting the workers at greater risk, according to a report released in 2019.

In February 2020, the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers denounced the Correctional Service Canada's (CSC) decision to implement the prison needle exchange program at Bowden Institution in Innisfail, Alta.

“Institutional Security Teams are an effective way to improve safety both inside and out of correctional facilities,” said Laurie Scott, MPP for Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock. “These additional measures will help prevent crime and combat human trafficking in our communities.”

The new Institutional Security Teams are part of two ongoing Ontario programs:

  • the Ontario's Anti-Human Trafficking Strategy, which aims to strengthen information and intelligence gathering capacity, help detect and monitor human traffickers within the adult correctional system, and identify victims as part of criminal investigations to more effectively bring offenders to justice
  • the Contraband Strategy and Action Plan, which is a series of initiatives to detect contraband in adult correctional facilities, enhance security measures, and improve the collection, analysis and sharing of data with justice sector partners.

Police officers, prison guards, first responders and medical professionals are at risk for accidental exposure to fentanyl — a drug classified as an opioid that’s prescribed as a painkiller, but often abused and obtained by illegal measures, according to a 2017 report.