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  • Decision to implement locked cell policy

    Case notes
    Complaint about the negative effects of implementing a locked cell policy in the Kaaka North and South pods at Northland Region Corrections Facility – Chief Ombudsman found that the implementation was unreasonable – the significant consequences (lack of
  • Declined request for dispensation regarding school Transport Entitlement Zone

    Case notes
    A family asked the Board of Trustees (the Board) of School A for dispensation to allow their child to access bus services to attend School B.
  • Department of Corrections staff to follow legislative requirements when segregating inmate

    Case notes
    Department of Corrections held prisoner in Management Unit without following required procedure—segregation legislation and regulations are clear and prescriptive
  • Department of Corrections unreasonably declines computer access to inmate

    Case notes
    Access to computer suite in prison denied—Ombudsman found this unreasonable—Corrections agreed to reconsider the inmate’s request and to review criteria for use—also that computer facilities at prison be reviewed to ensure availability to prisoners who meet criteria for assistance with litigation
  • Department of Corrections not unreasonable to decline face to face interview between prisoner and journalist in particular case

    Case notes
    Prisoner requested face to face interview with journalist—request declined—Ombudsman noted journalist had offered to conduct interview by AVL, notwithstanding preference for face to face—Ombudsman concluded that on this basis Department had not acted unreasonably in this instance
  • Training Institution fails to adequately address a complaint about its course

    Case notes
    Whether a training institution failed to address a complaint made by a student—Ombudsman found the institution’s appeals and complaints processes to have been inadequate—the institution accepted the finding and agreed to re-hear the appeal and then refunded the complainant’s course fees in resolution of the complaint
  • Adequacy of ex gratia payment to remedy mistake by Customs

    Case notes
    NZ Customs officer rejected passenger on flight because water damage on passport—Ombudsman found officers failed to process the passport adequately and caused considerable cost to passenger because of this failure—complainant upheld and complainant received full payment to cover financial losses
  • Department of Internal Affairs provides reasonable service and advice to traveller on temporary passport

    Case notes
    Whether the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) reasonably handled revalidation of a passport for New Zealand citizen travelling on temporary passport—Ombudsman concluded DIA had made every effort to inform the complainant of the steps needed to have his passport validated
  • Department of Corrections reasonable to seek removal of prisoner from study course in some circumstances

    Case notes
    Whether the Department of Corrections was reasonable to request the tertiary institution to remove a prisoner from a course at a polytechnic—Ombudsman found Department’s decision to have been reasonable in part
  • Department of Corrections made errors in documentation but parole hearing set correctly

    Case notes
    Whether Department of Corrections staff failed complainant with respect to a Parole Board hearing—Ombudsman found errors in documentation but complainant not disadvantaged
  • Department of Corrections unreasonable to place prisoner with mental illness in mainstream unit

    Case notes
    Whether the Department of Corrections was unreasonable to place prisoner in mainstream unit given specific medical condition of mental illness—Ombudsman upheld complaint
  • Department of Internal Affairs not unreasonable to cancel passport

    Case notes
    Department of Internal Affairs—decision to recall and cancel complainant’s NZ passport – position determined by terms of legislation
  • Corrections unreasonable not to pay for inmate’s glasses for re-integration programme

    Case notes
    Long serving prison inmate required glasses to participate in reintegration programme and work in prison tailor shop—Department of Corrections refused to pay for glasses unless inmate would refund them through his prison earnings—inmate later found out Department had paid for another inmate’s glasses in full—Ombudsman sustained complaint that inmate was not treated fairly—refund to inmate of money paid recommended.
  • Technical Institute required to amend student records when course cancelled

    Case notes
    Students enrolled in a two stage course to obtain a Certificate of Security were informed the second half was cancelled shortly before it was to commence—Technical Institute explored various options including notifying on the relevant academic records that students had ‘withdrawn’—students complained notation, course cancellation and lack of certification was unreasonable—Institute explained to Ombudsman that certificate registration was in train, the timing of the tutor’s resignation left it with few options but it was willing to explore these with students—Institute acknowledged it cancelled the course but current system did not have ‘cancellation of course’ as an option—Institute willing to review system and remove course from student records—Ombudsman satisfied that Institute acted reasonably to provide students with other options, certificates forthcoming and removing course from records would resolve complaint
  • School Board of Trustees and Principal’s decision to suspend student not consistent with principles of natural justice

    Case notes
    Suspended student’s parents complained about the conduct of his suspension—Ombudsman’s jurisdiction confined to the process followed by the Board—parties disputed duration of Principal’s interview with student, ability of Principal to contact parents about suspension and comments allegedly made to the student by the Principal during the interview—Ombudsman’s investigation unable to resolve these issues and no determination as to reasonableness of Board’s actions able to be made—Ombudsman satisfied that Principal’s request for student to write down his account of incident in accordance with principles of natural justice—however Ombudsman found Board acted unreasonably by dismissing parents’ concerns about Principal’s decision to interview student in absence of parents—Board acknowledged Principal’s decision not consistent with principles of natural justice and agreed to review its ‘Interviewing of Students’ policy—no formal recommendation made
  • Department of Corrections required to state reasons for security classification

    Case notes
    Prison inmate complained that his security classification had been unreasonably assessed and Ombudsman concluded the Department failed to provide ‘strong reasons’ (which must be stated)—Ombudsman found the Prison officers had based their classification on uncorroborated, unrecorded, verbal statement made by another inmate—Ombudsman upheld complaint based on inequitable situation that would result if prison relied solely on this information, however, the inmate released before any recommendation could be made
  • Board of Trustees fails to follow principles of natural justice at disciplinary hearing for expelled student

    Case notes
    Student excluded after initially caught hiding stolen property—at the disciplinary hearing the exclusion decision not based on this incident due to lack of evidence but on history of misdemeanours—parents complained that due process had not been followed in disciplinary process—Ombudsman found that at the disciplinary hearing by school the student had no reasonable indication that the student would be answering to an allegation of continual disobedience—complaint about Board of Trustees’ process sustained and Ombudsman recommended apology, reinstatement of student, and removal of exclusion from student’s records—the Board refused to act on recommendations although the student reinstated for other reasons
  • Department of Corrections revises guidelines on implications for visitors possessing drugs

    Case notes
    Prison banned inmate’s family members from visiting for 12-months after small amount of cannabis found in their possession—the inmate complained that the duration of ban was unreasonable but the Department of Corrections noted it had zero tolerance policy for drugs with an automatic 12-month prohibition order to be placed on anyone found with them on prison property—Ombudsman concluded blanket ban unreasonable and the Department agreed each case to be considered on merits and prepared guidelines for prisons—Ombudsman advised inmate to apply for a review of prohibition order under the new guidelines
  • Ministry of Education reimburses overcharged rental on school owned house

    Case notes
    Tenants renting house from Board of Trustees paid $35 per week more than permitted by the Ministry of Education guidelines and tenants sought reimbursement from the Ministry—the Ministry refused but Ombudsman found the Board was acting as Ministry’s agent and it had been unreasonable for the Ministry to decline reimbursement—the Ombudsman recommended that tenants be fully reimbursed
  • University Appointment processes should provide better information to applicants

    Case notes
    Unsuccessful applicant for a senior university appointment—alleged procedural unfairness—lack of clarity about processes and rights of appeal
  • University Council cannot exclude public from meetings on basis of members needing ‘free and frank’ discussion

    Case notes
    Exclusion of public from part of meeting—adequacy of grounds for exclusion—free and frank expression of opinion not a sufficient basis to exclude the public—Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987, s 48(1)(a)(ii)
  • Department of Corrections failed to meet requirements before placing inmate in restrictive regime

    Case notes
    Department of Corrections placement of inmate on restrictive regime designed for the most disruptive inmates unreasonable because criteria for placement not met—placement deemed unreasonable—inmate immediately returned to mainstream
  • Department of Corrections applies prison visiting rules too rigidly

    Case notes
    Special family visit to inmate denied—decision contrary to Department's national standard—prison agreed to review its local instructions to ensure consistency with spirit and intent of national standard
  • Department of Corrections delays prisoner release when segregation order expired

    Case notes
    Delayed release from ‘precautionary segregation’—complaint upheld—implementation of computerised bring-up system to avoid recurrence of problem—no recommendation necessary
  • Department of Corrections required to review process for media contact with inmates

    Case notes
    Access to prison inmates by the news media—conflict between procedural manual and communications policy—policy to be reviewed to ensure consistency with procedures
  • Department of Corrections protocol with Ombudsman regarding death in custody

    Case notes
    Death in custody—application of Protocol between Department of Corrections and Office of the Ombudsmen—issues arising from monitoring departmental investigation—need for improved communication, videotaping, fire safety and emergency procedures
  • School Board of Trustees agrees to address significant deficiencies in suspension procedure

    Case notes
    Suspension and expulsion of student where several significant deficiencies were identified in the procedures of the Board’s disciplinary committee led to the Board of Trustees agreeing to review its procedures and apologise to student and family—the Board also amended student’s records to show the suspension decision was invalid—the Board’s willingness to address its deficiencies were notable in this case (Board members were all new to the role)
  • New Zealand Customs Service questioned over acceptance of deposit pursuant to legislation

    Case notes
    Refusal to pay interest following resolution of dispute over Customs value of goods—whether relevant documentation provided at the time of importation—whether s 140 of the Customs Act 1966 (repealed) conferred authority on Department to take deposit—investigation discontinued following discovery that company did not exist as legal entity at the time complaint was made
  • School Board of Trustee and Principal failed to follow disciplinary process; contrary to law

    Case notes
    School Board of Trustees fails to follow statutory criteria for suspension of student (failure to provide guidance and counselling)—suspending a student is a serious step requiring careful consideration—the Ombudsman’s investigation of a wide-ranging complaint by a mother about the manner in which a school had dealt with various aspects of her two sons’ behaviour, culminating in the indefinite suspension of one of her sons, highlighted the need for Principals and Boards of Trustees to familiarise themselves thoroughly with the procedural requirements of s 13 of the Education Act 1989
  • Department of Corrections should explain reasons for declining application to be excused from PD reporting

    Case notes
    Refusal of application to be excused from reporting for periodic detention—incomplete explanation given at the time—reasons and apology provided—Criminal Justice Act 1985, s 41(3)
  • Department of Corrections required to advise decision on day parole application

    Case notes
    Failure to advise inmate of decision on application for day parole—prison administration expected inmate to ask Case officer for outcome—responsibility for advising the outcome of a request/application normally rests with decision-maker—internal procedures changed to reflect normal practice
  • Department of Corrections reasonably held inmate in segregation

    Case notes
    Unreasonable placement of inmate on precautionary segregation—written material found in his cell which reflected on the safety of prison staff—placement not deemed unreasonable