Hawkes Bay Regional Prison Inspection Report


The Office of the Inspectorate carried out an inspection of Hawkes Bay Regional Prison in July 2017. This report could not be finalised until late June 2018. By this time, it was considered there would be a benefit in having a follow-up inspection to assess the developments at the prison. In July 2018, the Inspectorate returned to the prison to conduct a follow-up inspection, which specifically focused on those areas identified for improvement. These reports should be read together.


This is the fifth in a series of public reports on scheduled inspections of New Zealand prisons.

The inspections are intended to provide a ‘window into prisons’, giving early warning of emerging risks and challenges, and highlighting areas of innovation and good practice that other prisons might wish to follow.

Inspections are carried out against a set of healthy prison standards that are derived from United Nations guidelines on the treatment of people in detention.[1] Prison performance is assessed under four guiding principles:

» Safety: Prisoners are held safely.

» Respect: Prisoners are treated with respect for human dignity.

» Rehabilitation: 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.

The primary purpose of the prison system is to protect society from crime, both during a prisoner’s imprisonment and after their release into the community.[2] The four principles reflect that purpose and highlight the potentially competing demands that are often placed on prison staff and management.

In an ideal world, prisons would be able to deliver on all four principles on all occasions. In practice, safety, humane treatment, and rehabilitation and reintegration needs are sometimes balanced against one another, and short-term requirements sometimes take precedence over longer-term needs.

I encourage prison directors, managers and staff to use these principles as a guide to decision-making, and to foster continual improvement that, as much as possible, sees their prisons deliver on all four principles.

The inspection programme is still relatively new. It is an ambitious programme involving inspection of all New Zealand prisons within a 20-month period. We have learned a great deal from our first few inspections about the challenges facing New Zealand prisons, and about the contribution inspections can make to prison management.

I am committed to progressively maturing our inspection methodology to ensure that we are agile in adapting to new developments and delivering robust and meaningful reports that can aid decision-making. We are reviewing our inspection methodology to reflect lessons learned from our first few inspections and to bring the methodology into line with changes in United Nations standard rules on treatment of prisoners.

This year, we have also adopted a new, simpler report structure. While our inspections consider all areas of prison life, the report aims to highlight what matters most – focusing on areas where safety, humane treatment, rehabilitation and reintegration are at risk, and on innovative practices that appear to be particularly effective at supporting all of these goals.

The report highlights some of the pressures Hawkes Bay Regional Prison (and other prisons) are facing – including the challenges associated with a rising prison population, the introduction of double bunking, pressures on staffing, the influence of gangs and barriers to rehabilitation. It also highlights some parts of the prison programme that have effectively supported prisoners to make positive changes.

As well as conducting our scheduled programme of prison inspections, the Office of the Inspectorate will be providing ongoing monitoring through the work of its Regional Inspectors, who, in addition to their general responsibilities, will report to me on Hawkes Bay Regional Prison’s progress against the healthy prison standards and the matters specifically identified in this report. Further rounds of scheduled inspections will also consider the prison’s progress.

My oversight of these activities will provide a significant ongoing and critical insight into prisons. I am confident this will provide assurance that any shortcomings will be identified and addressed at pace, and that examples of good practice will be shared so that other prisons can follow.

I acknowledge the cooperation of Hawkes Bay Regional Prison’s management and staff both during the inspection and since, and I look forward to working with them as I continue to monitor progress.

Janis Adair

Chief Inspector of Corrections

1 As well as considering the four principles, the healthy prison standards require inspectors to consider nine specific areas of prison life: reception and admission, first days in custody, escorts and transfers, good order, duty of care, environment, health, rehabilitation and reintegration.

2 United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (The Nelson Mandela Rules), rule 4. See also Corrections Act 2004 sections 5 and 6.