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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
  • 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
  • Department of Internal Affairs’ interpretation of Rates Rebate Act correct in partnership income issue

    Case notes
    Decision not to investigate a complaint about the Department of Internal Affairs’ interpretation of the Rates Rebate Act 1973
  • 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
  • Inland Revenue Department not unreasonable to decline ex gratia payment

    Case notes
    Inland Revenue Department (IRD) refused to provide financial compensation for error—complainant not affected financially by error—Ombudsman concluded IRD reasonable to offer apology and instalment plan for repayment of money sent in error to complainant
  • Inland Revenue agrees to offer ex gratia payment for error

    Case notes
    IRD delayed advising student of loan liability—IRD agrees to offer complainant ex gratia payment representing the accrued interest for the period the loan repayment had been outstanding
  • 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.
  • Inland Revenue Department not unreasonable to pay tax refund to estranged wife

    Case notes
    Inland Revenue (IRD) decision to pay complainant’s tax refund to estranged wife appropriate in the circumstances
  • Auckland International Airport unreasonable to issue Trespass Notice

    Case notes
    Auckland International Airport Ltd—Trespass Notice to shuttle driver unreasonable and unjust—penalty imposed by airport out of proportion in relation to offence
  • Land Information New Zealand entitled to sell property previously available for buy-back

    Case notes
    Claim as successors for the offer-back of a disused school site—Ombudsman not wholly satisfied with some aspects of the process adopted by LINZ, but concluded that claimants could not fall within the statutory definition of ‘successor’
  • Transpower New Zealand’s refusal to consent to construction not unreasonable

    Case notes
    Complaint about refusal of Transpower New Zealand Ltd to allow building on property over which it had easement—Transpower refused consent—Ombudsman found its actions not unreasonable
  • Ministry of Culture and Heritage’s decision regarding artefact was reasonable

    Case notes
    Ministry of Culture and Heritage—custody of bone artefact
  • Investigation of the Department of Corrections in relation to the detention and treatment of prisoners

    Systemic investigations
    Under the Ombudsmen Act 1975, it is a function of the Ombudsmen to investigate complaints relating to matters of administration affecting persons in their personal capacity against various bodies, including the Department of Corrections (the Department). Pursuant to this Act, the Ombudsmen have power to investigate complaints by prisoners about all aspects of their detention by the Department. At the end of 2004 serious issues related to the treatment of prisoners came to public attention.
  • Landcorp fails to monitor survey of land for sale

    Case notes
    Lessee of Crown land given opportunity to purchase it freehold in 1996 from Landcorp—a review of title revealed land had been surveyed to exclude all internal waterways used by lessee for his salmon and trout farms and problem discovered too late for exemptions under Conservation Act—the consequences of survey effectively confiscated farms and lessee complained to Ombudsman that Landcorp’s failure to monitor survey allowed issuance of title for an unviable property—Ombudsman reviewed circumstances and agreed Landcorp should have ensured it was informed of survey progress—its failure to monitor meant Landcorp could not take more effective measures to overcome title issues and land subsequently not fit for sale—view formed that Landcorp’s sale was unreasonable—Landcorp disagreed with view but agreed to make ex-gratia payment to complainant
  • Inland Revenue’s policy and procedures deficient in case of child support repayments

    Case notes
    IRD reviewed child support payments for liable parent resulting in $180 per month increase backdated 3 months—parent advised he could not pay arrears in lump sum and sought payment in instalments—IRD agreed—custodial parent complained to Ombudsman—Ombudsman reviewed instalment policy—IRD’s decision made in accordance with policy—however policy did not require full disclosure or scrutiny of liable parent’s financial situation—Ombudsman of view decision in this case not unreasonable as followed policy, but policy and procedures deficient and unreasonable—IRD agreed to review policy and procedures
  • 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
  • Inland Revenue provided incomplete advice therefore was unreasonable to decline remission application

    Case notes
    Provisional taxpayer advised by IRD of date tax due—advice relied on was wrong—late provisional tax resulted in ‘Use of Money Interest’ imposed by IRD—remission sought on grounds that taxpayer relied on IRD advice—remission declined as advice considered to be correct on the basis of details originally provided by taxpayer—Ombudsman formed view that information provided by IRD was correct but incomplete therefore decision to decline remission application unreasonable—partial remission appropriate in circumstances
  • 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
  • Crown Research Institute’s publication on nicotine in tobacco inadequate

    Case notes
    Publication of research data subsequently found to be flawed—notice of research results to interested parties—adequacy of subsequent retraction—inclusion of contextual material with media release—relationship between an Ombudsman's jurisdiction and issues involving scientific techniques and the course of research—matter of administration—Ombudsmen Act 1975, s 13
  • IRD delays verifying student’s address and unreasonably charged late payment penalties

    Case notes
    Student believed her student loan repaid by grandmother and she had had no contact from IRD for eight years—there was no evidence the loan was repaid and IRD accepted there had been an unreasonable excessive delay in contacting student due to lack of valid address—however the IRD had no power to write off initial loan balance but following the Ombudsman’s investigation, agreed to reinstate loan in the current year and cancel accumulated interest and penalties
  • 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
  • Inland Revenue Department paid ex gratia payment to compensate loss incurred when Company relied on incomplete information contained in IRD Company Tax Guide, 1997.

    Case notes
    Provisional tax paid by both a company and its individual directors using Standard Formula method rather than Estimate method calculations—reliance placed on information published by Inland Revenue Department in 1997 IR4 Company Tax Guide—large overpayments resulted at end of tax year—company and directors not eligible to receive ‘use of money interest’ from Department—Department agreed that IR4 Company Tax Guide was misleading
  • 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
  • Inland Revenue Department accepts misleading advice caused detriment to holder of student loan

    Case notes
    Inland Revenue Department (IRD) provided misleading advice to student about status of his student loan account— he undertook on-going financial commitments in reliance on that advice— IRD was found to have erred by not providing regular statements of the student loan and accepted that this had caused detriment to the student—there had also been unreasonable delay in responding to the student’s wife’s inquiries about the loan debt and whether it had been cleared—in resolution, IRD agreed with the Ombudsman’s recommendation to put the student back into the position he would have been without relying on misleading advice and to pay an ex gratia payment of $2,400 which was credited to the loan account
  • Inland Revenue Department’s unreasonable use of discretion to withhold information under the Tax Administration Act

    Case notes
    IRD refused to provide details of internal investigation of complaint under s 81(4) of the Tax Administration Act 1994—the information the complainant wanted concerned an investigation into his allegation of improper actions by IRD staff—Ombudsman found that the Commissioner’s discretion to withhold the information was unreasonable because the complainant was entitled to information about an investigation concerning him—IRD agreed with the Ombudsman’s decision and made most of the information available