Auckland Prison inspection report 2017
Early in 2017, the Department of Corrections increased the size of the Office of the Inspectorate and expanded its work programme.
The Office of the Inspectorate had previously been responsible for independently investigating deaths in custody, complaints (if they could not be resolved in the prison) and other matters as directed by the Department’s Chief Executive.
The expanded team is now also charged with carrying out regular, scheduled inspections of prisons. The aim of those inspections is to provide an insight into prison life, to find out what prisons are doing well, and to provide early warning of any risks or challenges that are emerging and need attention.
The inspectors assess prison performance against a set of healthy prison standards. All aspects of prison life are considered, with a particular focus on safety, respect for human dignity, rehabilitation, and reintegration into the community.
I encourage prison directors to use this assessment framework to drive continuous improvement within their prisons.
In the interests of transparency and public accountability, I have committed to releasing public reports on all of its scheduled prison inspections. This report on Auckland Prison is the second. Others will follow in coming months.
The inspection programme is still relatively new, and the inspection methodology is evolving. I intend to deliver clear and robust reports that support prison managers to deal with any areas of concern and drive a programme of continuous improvement.
Auckland Prison is the only New Zealand prison housing maximum security male prisoners. Security in the prison is a constant challenge, and violent incidents sometimes occur. Our inspection took place soon after one such incident, in which a corrections officer was stabbed.
Notwithstanding this incident, my inspectors did not find that violence was endemic within the prison. On the contrary, prisoner-staff relationships were generally positive, and prisoners told us that violence was not common and tended to be isolated to younger gang members.
I note that the prison has taken steps to strengthen security where necessary in its maximum security units, and also that it has increased training to ensure that staff understand their tactical options when responding to incidents.
I acknowledge the cooperation of prison management and staff during our inspection, and their positive and proactive response to the issues we have raised.