Jail breakout plot foiled: Union

The Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre.



OTTAWA -- It was a brazen plan.

Break into the jail, leave wire cutters, weapons and drugs behind. Grab a hostage and make a fast break for it.

The end goal: Help someone break out of jail.

Details of the Oct. 24 plot at the Ottawa Carleton Detention Centre (OCDC) were confirmed to QMI Agency by Dan Sidsworth, provincial chair of the Ontario Public Service Employee's Union's corrections division.

It is a serious security breach and evidence of ongoing security issues, Sidsworth said.

Exact details are sketchy as enforcement agencies are refusing to divulge more information.

A ministry spokesman, who also confirmed "an unsuccessful escape attempt," said public safety was never at risk.

"There was some sort of plan where they were going to take (a jail guard) hostage and try to escape," Sidsworth said.

Guards uncovered the plot when they found a package of weapons and drugs in a facility yard, and more on the roof of the jail.

The package also contained wire cutters and knives, strongly suggesting an escape.

"It (the package) was found between inmate units going out into the yard. What was found was someone cut the perimeter fence and entered into ... (the) institution," Sidsworth said.

He added the union is concerned that the institution is not following proper security procedures.

Trying to smuggle drugs or other contraband to inmates is not unusual, but Sidsworth said it is very uncommon to discover a perimeter breach and an elaborate plan to escape, adding "nothing this orchestrated" has been dealt with in recent history at OCDC.

Sidsworth said it should have prompted an automatic lockdown of the jail, which is standard practice on an escape attempt.

Instead, business carried on as usual, Sidsworth said.

No one has been arrested, according to the union.
The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services said in an e-mail no one from the public entered a secure area and inmates are accounted for.

The ministry is reviewing security protocols and procedures at the jail, and said it would be "inappropriate" to further comment due to ongoing investigations by them and Ottawa police.

Nothing has changed since the plot was discovered, according to the union, which also highlights concerns about unmaintained security equipment, jail guard shortages and a communication breakdown with the ministry.

The ministry has "downplayed everything," said Sidsworth, who is frustrated with deteriorating communications.


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