Prison inspection reports first for Inspectorate

The Office of the Inspectorate today released reports into Manawatu Prison and Auckland Prison (Paremoremo), the first two resulting from a programme of inspections of New Zealand prisons.

“In the interests of transparency and public accountability, the Office of the Inspectorate has committed to releasing public reports of all its scheduled prison inspections,” said Chief Inspector Janis Adair.

The Office of the Inspectorate is part of the Department of Corrections, but is required to act independently in its inspections and other investigations.

Last year the Office of the Inspectorate’s role was enhanced and its functions were expanded to include scheduled prison inspections. The inspections aim to provide a ‘window into prisons’, identify areas of innovation and good practice, and provide early warning about emerging challenges that need to be addressed.

Inspectors assess prisons against internationally accepted ‘healthy prison’ standards which consider all aspects of life in prison with a particular focus on safety, humane treatment, rehabilitation and reintegration.

The reports will help prison directors drive a programme of continuous improvement in each prison, ensuring that any shortcomings are addressed quickly and examples of good practice are shared.

“Manawatu Prison’s staff and management were doing the best they could under complex and challenging circumstances, not all of which were under the prison’s direct control,” said Ms Adair.

“Influencing factors included a challenging physical environment, limits on resources, and staffing pressures partly caused by the growing national prison population.”

Ms Adair said she had been heartened by the prison’s response to the inspection. Management responded by developing a comprehensive action plan to address the concerns raised. The plan included more than 80 action points, and the prison had already made significant progress towards its implementation.

“The Auckland Prison report found that security was a constant challenge and violent incidents sometimes occurred. However, inspectors found that violence was not widespread within the prison. It found that the prison managed safety and security matters reasonably well. “

Prisoner-staff relationships were generally positive, and prisoners said violence was not common and tended to be isolated to younger gang members, Ms Adair said.

The prison offered a wide range of rehabilitation and training programmes, and work experience opportunities. The case management approach meant that prisoners were supported throughout their sentences, and as they were released into the community.

Since the inspection, the prison had taken steps to strengthen security where necessary in its maximum security units, and increased training to ensure that staff understood their tactical options when responding to incidents.

As well as conducting a programme of prison inspections, the Office of the Inspectorate carries out investigations into complaints from people under Correction’s management, investigates all deaths in custody, and can be tasked to carry out special investigations.

Note: For completeness and context, this statement should be viewed alongside Corrections’ response to the Manawatu and Auckland Prison reports.

Response from Corrections' National Commissioner

Inspection reports