Request for details of prison security system

Maintenance of the law
Legislation:
Official Information Act 1982
Section 6
Legislation display text:
Official Information Act 1982, s 6(c)
Agency:
Department of Corrections
Ombudsman:
Sir Brian Elwood
Case number(s):
W47885
Issue date:
Language:
English

Prison inmate sought details of prison security system and name of company who installed it—release would be likely to prejudice the integrity of system

The requester was an inmate in a North Island prison. He wrote to his case officer requesting certain information about the prison’s security system, including the identity of the computer company which had installed the security system.

The request was refused under section 18(e) of the OIA. The Chief Ombudsman was asked to review this decision.

In response to the notification of the complaint the Department clarified that it did hold the information concerning the prison security system and the identity of the company involved, but considered that to release it would be likely to ‘prejudice the maintenance of the law’. It said that any information about the type of security systems operating in the prisons and the way in which cameras and recorders are maintained and monitored should not be made available to inmates. Otherwise, the security at the prison could be seriously compromised.

It was the Chief Ombudsman’s view that making available details to an inmate of the prison’s security and surveillance system, including the name of the company involved in its operation and servicing, would increase the likelihood that the integrity of that system would be prejudiced and that this ‘would be likely’ to prejudice the maintenance of the law. It was therefore the Chief Ombudsman’s view that the Department was entitled to rely upon section 6(c) of the OIA to withhold the information at issue.

This case note is published under the authority of the Ombudsmen Rules 1989. It sets out an Ombudsman’s view on the facts of a particular case. It should not be taken as establishing any legal precedent that would bind an Ombudsman in future.

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