What we do

Prison Inspections

In March 2017, the Office of the Inspectorate started a programme of inspections of New Zealand’s 18 prisons.

Each prison is assessed against Inspection Standards, based on the UN’s Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (known as the Nelson Mandela Rules). There are four principles:

  • Safety - Prisoners are held safely.
  • Respect - Prisoners are treated with respect for human dignity.
  • Purposeful activity - Prisoners are able, and expect, to engage in activity that is likely to benefit them.
  • Reintegration - Prisoners are prepared for release into the community, and helped to reduce their likelihood of re-offending.

Inspectors also consider ten areas of prison life: reception and admission, first days in custody, escorts and transfers, good order, duty of care, environment, health, rehabilitation, reintegration, and prison staff.

The Office of the Inspectorate has developed special standards for assessing the three women’s prisons, given the different needs of women prisoners.

The prison inspections aim to provide a ‘window into prisons’ and identify innovation and good practice, while giving early warning of any emerging risks and concerns. Following each inspection, a report is written which includes findings.

All reports will be published on this website.

Deaths in custody

The Office of the Inspectorate investigates the deaths of people in Corrections’ custody, to understand what happened and see whether improvements can be made. These reports go to the Chief Executive, and the Coroner, who determines the cause of death.

Wide-ranging investigations are carried out into deaths where serious concerns have been raised. Investigations of deaths from medical events focus mainly on access to and provision of health care. Investigations also seek information from other experts, as required.

It is important for the families of those who have died in custody to be informed and kept updated about this process. The Office of the Inspectorate contacts the family of each person who has died to tell them about the Inspectorate’s role in investigating the death and reporting to the Coroner. Inspectors are available to nominated contact people and family members to discuss the process and answer any questions.

Other investigations

The Office of the Inspectorate also carries out special investigations, directed by the Chief Executive, on matters concerned with the secure custody and safe, fair and humane treatment of offenders in prison and in the community.

Where there are issues of concern, the Chief Inspector can initiate investigations and monitoring.

Previous special investigations include the Chief Inspector’s Report into circumstances surrounding organised prisoner on prisoner fighting (“Fight Club”) at Mount Eden Corrections Facility (2016).

Inspection Standards