It’s been a long time coming, but new food hatches and locks are being installed at the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre for safety reasons.

There have been weeks of near-riot conditions, fires and turmoil leading up to the replacement of hatches, which have caused injuries to staff and prisoners.

Inmates can currently open the hatches and slash other inmates or staff through the slots.

They've also started fires by throwing lit objects through the openings, which happened last week.

The open hatch doors can also become weapons.

That's how a correctional officer was assaulted by an inmate when his head was struck against a hatch's jagged edge.

Trish Gooden, OPSEU Local 108 president, says she’s happy to see the changes but would have liked them sooner. “It’s unfortunate that it’s taken fires and assaults on inmates and staff to reach this point where it’s actually being dealt with.”

By the end of the week, part the general inmate population is expected to be moved out, either to other areas within EMDC or to other institutions. This will free up three units for renovations.

The father of an inmate injured recently says it’s too little, too late.

RG’s son is serving a sentence at the troubled jail and was assaulted by another inmate.

“There's not enough guards to look over the inmates, to control them,” he says.

He's concerned that with these transfers, his son could now be serving alongside his alleged assaulter.

“My son is definitely at risk.”

Gooden knows of the risks inmates and staff face and hopes this is a step in the right direction.

Correctional officers are still waiting on more than 100 video cameras and working metal detectors.