Inspection report for Manawatū Prison released

12 February 2024

The Office of the Inspectorate has released an inspection report for Manawatū Prison - the Inspectorate’s first inspection of an entire prison site since the end of the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

Chief Inspector Janis Adair said that since the last inspection of Manawatū Prison, in 2019, the site had made real progress on a number of fronts. “I attribute that progress in large part to the leadership of the Acting Prison Director and her team.”

The report found that Manawatū Prison’s leaders were “generally visible, accessible and consistent. This contributed to improved staff morale.”

Ms Adair commended the site on its prison forums. Known as ‘prisoner welfare groups’, these regular forums give the men opportunities to raise issues or concerns directly with senior leaders and have proved to be a positive initiative.

The site also had some ongoing challenges, which were largely outside the control of the Acting Prison Director.

The site faced staff shortages, and was also accommodating a high number of remand prisoners who had limited access to programmes and rehabilitative opportunities.

The design of the site, due to its age, posed a constant challenge despite ongoing remedial and maintenance work.

The site continued not to have an Intervention and Support Unit, for managing prisoners at risk of self-harm. Ms Adair acknowledged the best efforts of staff to manage those prisoners.

“I look forward to reviewing the site’s action plan to address the areas that require attention, identified in this report, as part of my ongoing monitoring of the site.“

The report is part of the programme of prison inspections carried out by the Inspectorate. The inspection process provides an ongoing 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.

The Office of the Inspectorate 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, to ensure objectivity and integrity.