Auckland Region Women's Corrections Facility inspection report 2020

The Office of the Inspectorate Te Tari Tirohia is a critical part of the independent oversight of the Corrections system and operates under the Corrections Act 2004 and the Corrections Regulations 2005. The Inspectorate, while part of the Department of Corrections, is operationally independent, which is necessary to ensure objectivity and integrity.

This report is part of the programme of prison inspections carried out by the Office of the Inspectorate. The inspection process provides an ongoing invaluable insight into prisons and provides assurance that shortcomings are identified and addressed in a timely way, and examples of good practice are shared across the prison network.

I recognise the challenges this site has faced over recent years with the numbers of maximum security, high security and remand wāhine. Many of the environmental challenges have remained unchanged, despite the obvious need for capital investment to provide outside exercise yards for the high security units.

I note the site is carrying a high number of vacancies and staff who were unable to be rostered. This undoubtedly places a greater burden on the current staff and impacts adversely on morale and the ability to support the wāhine.

I want to acknowledge the recent appointment of a Prison Director and key senior positions in his management team. I am confident that strong leadership will focus efforts to appropriately address the challenges of this site and ensure it is better equipped and supported to deliver a high quality service.

I urge the Department of Corrections to carefully consider the findings in this report and to act with pace to address these.

I also want to acknowledge areas of good practice which were observed, such as the Mobility Dog Assistance Programme, Receiving Office processes, the AVL facility, and the Mothers with Babies Unit. I was pleased to note that most wāhine reported feeling safe from bullying and violence, and Intervention and Support Unit staff demonstrated professionalism and skill when engaging with mentally unwell wāhine.

This inspection found health staff showed professionalism and compassion during their interactions with wāhine, however access to health services was impacted by staff shortages and the limited number of consultation rooms.