Investigation of the Department of Corrections in relation to an incident of self-harm at Christchurch Women’s Prison and the issuing of strip gowns to prisoners at risk of self harm
It was reported that Corrections Officers observed a prisoner wrap a piece of cloth around her neck that she had ripped from a strip gown. Officers entered her cell and removed the cloth and ripped gown. A second strip gown was issued to the prisoner. A short time after, staff had to re-enter her cell again to remove the second gown from which she had ripped a similar piece of cloth and was trying to place around her neck as a ligature.
I was concerned that this prisoner, who had been assessed at-risk of self-harm, had been able to rip two issued prison stripped gowns in a short period of time in attempts to cause self-harm.
I was also aware of an on-going investigation by an Inspector of Corrections into the death in custody of another prisoner in February 2009 that had given rise to a concern about the adequacy of clothing and bedding issued to prisoners considered to be at-risk of self-harm.
I decided to carry out an own motion investigation into the occurrence and the Department’s policies, procedures and practices in relation to the issuing of strip gowns to prisoners.