Media release

Chief Ombudsman investigating Department of Corrections

Issue date:

The Chief Ombudsman has begun an investigation into how the Department of Corrections has responded to repeated calls for reforms aimed at improving conditions for prisoners. 

“In many areas, I have not seen significant and sustained improvements to prisoners’ welfare and rehabilitation,” says Peter Boshier.

“This is despite concerns about conditions being raised by me and others at different levels of the department, and report after report being released calling for change.”

“I simply want to know why.”

Mr Boshier says his systemic investigation will be independent, wide ranging, and he expects it will take a year to complete. He notified the Chief Executive of Corrections last week that he would be conducting a self-initiated investigation.

“I want to find out why problems continue to exist across the whole prison network and how the department is genuinely taking action to address these.”

“I have become increasingly concerned about seeing the same issues coming up time and time again,” he says.

“I now need to determine if there are any system-wide issues in the department that may be preventing it from making changes that I and other oversight agencies have been calling for.”

The Chief Ombudsman will be looking at what the department has done to effectively address:

  • the treatment and conditions of people held in all correctional facilities;
  • opportunities for constructive activity, such as education, employment, rehabilitation and reintegration programmes; and
  • performance monitoring and review processes, such as complaints management, oversight of segregation orders, use of force reviews, and other operational or incident reviews.

The Chief Ombudsman will consider these issues through the lens of the department’s Te Tiriti o Waitangi and its stewardship obligations.

The investigation’s areas of focus may be adjusted or refined as more information becomes available over time.

The investigation is expected to be completed by mid to late 2022, depending on what is found. It is currently at the initial planning stage.

ENDS

Notes for editors

The Chief Ombudsman is available for interviews. Please contact Manager Communications, Mark Torley on 027 275 5733 or communications@ombudsman.parliament.nz.

Investigation terms of reference

As this is a systemic investigation, the Chief Ombudsman will not be looking at individual complaints. Prisoners who wish to make a complaint about their individual circumstances can continue to do so by calling the Ombudsman’s dedicated prisoner telephone line.

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