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  • 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.
  • Request for report on suicide and the media

    Case notes
    Strong public interest in requester having access—participation in making of laws and policy— release on conditions
  • Request for names and email addresses of people consulted on draft speech

    Case notes
    Recipients and senders of emails consulted—disclosure would not inhibit senior public servants from expressing free and frank opinions in future—however others would be inhibited
  • Request for comments on early draft cabinet papers

    Case notes
    Request for documents regarding Kyoto Protocol—information contained initial Treasury comments on draft versions of cabinet paper—part of informal consultation early in policy making process—concern that release would result in officials being less co-operative and formalise the process—withholding necessary to maintain effective conduct of public affairs
  • 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
  • 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
  • Department of Corrections accepts obligation to consider inmates’ circumstances when deciding work and educational paroles

    Case notes
    Refusal of work and educational paroles before inmate appeared before National Parole Board—inflexible policy inconsistent with concept of individual case management—review resulted in detailed case management plan for inmate
  • Request for documents prepared for Minister regarding Treaty of Waitangi claims

    Case notes
    Due particularity and duty to provide reasonable assistance—s 12(2) and 13
  • Request for information disclosed during confidential Ministerial briefing to sector group

    Case notes
    Request by Opposition for information disclosed during confidential Ministerial briefing to sector group—s 9(2)(g)(i)—effective conduct of public affairs—public interest balancing—accountability—need for transparency in Minister’s dealings with financial sector
  • Request for information relating to the setting up of the Special Committee on Nuclear Propulsion

    Case notes
    Request for information relating to the setting up of the Special Committee on Nuclear Propulsion—given the sensitivity of the nuclear propulsion issue and the context in which the information had been generated, the withholding of the information was necessary under ss 9(2)(f)(iv) and 9(2)(g)(i)—at the time of the review the balance of public interest favoured withholding the information requested—the overall public interest was better served in allowing the Special Committee to complete its review in an orderly manner
  • Request for Court Registrar’s report

    Case notes
    Report on aborted trial released with deletions—‘free and frank expressions of opinion’ by Registrar—no public interest override
  • Request for a copy of paper presented to Cabinet Strategy Committee

    Case notes
    Information deleted from position paper on pricing issues presented by ECNZ to Cabinet Strategy Committee—ss 9(2)(g)(i) and 9(2)(j) applied to some of the information—interest in withholding information in certain sections of the paper outweighed by strong public interest in disclosure—s 9(1)—electricity pricing has a direct widespread impact on a large number of New Zealanders