Manawatu Prison inspection report 2017
Early in 2017, the Department of Corrections increased the size of its prison inspection team, and expanded its brief. The Office of the Inspectorate had previously been responsible for independently investigating deaths in custody, complaints (if they could not be resolved in 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. Each prison will likely be inspected every 20 months. The aim of these 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. This is important and valuable work.
The inspectors assess prison performance against internationally accepted 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 strongly encourage Prison Directors to use this assessment framework to drive a programme of continuous improvement in each prison, this will ensure that, across the entire prison estate, every effort is being made to meet these healthy prison standards.
In the interests of transparency and public accountability, the Office of the Inspectorate has committed to releasing public reports on all of its scheduled prison inspections. This report on Manawatu Prison is the first. Others will follow in coming months.
I am committed also to maturing our inspection methodology to ensure that we are agile adapting to new developments and deliver quality and meaningful reports.
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 Inspectorate team, who, in addition to their general responsibilities, will be reporting to me on progress against these standards.
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 with pace, and that examples of good practice will be shared so that other prisons can follow.
Our inspection took place between late March and May of this year. At that time, we found a prison that was facing a number of challenges, some of which needed urgent attention.
It was apparent that the 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. Influencing factors included a challenging physical environment, limits on resources, and staffing pressures partly caused by the growing national prison population.
I have been heartened by the prison’s response to our inspection. Prison management quickly developed a comprehensive action plan to address our concerns and have made significant progress towards its implementation.
I acknowledge the cooperation of Manawatu 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.
Chief Inspector of Corrections