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  • Report on an unannounced inspection of Whanganui Prison - 4 September 2018

    OPCAT reports
    The following report has been prepared in my capacity as a National Preventive Mechanism under the Crimes of Torture Act 1989 (COTA). My function under the COTA is to examine and make any recommendations that I consider appropriate to improve the treatment and conditions of detained persons in a number of places of detention, including prisons. This report examines the treatment and conditions of persons detained in Whanganui Prison.
  • Local Authority excludes public from meeting when agenda item about water issues

    Case notes
    Complaint about a Local Authority (the Council) to exclude the public from a part of its Audit and Risk Committee meeting regarding its discussion of agenda item relating to water quality and water restriction issues—insufficient weight was given to the public interest in the subject matter of the agenda item
  • Request for information about staff grievances and allegations of bullying

    Opinions
    Sam Sherwood, on behalf of Stuff, made a request to Selwyn District Council for information about staff grievances and allegations of bullying.
  • Request for draft report prepared by PwC on Auckland Stadium

    Case notes
    Report refused because it was in draft form and commercially sensitive—parts of report withholdable however no basis for blanket withholding—strong public interest in release of report in part
  • Report on an unannounced follow-up inspection of Christchurch Women's Prison - 4 April 2018

    OPCAT reports
    In 2007, the Ombudsmen were designated one of the National Preventive Mechanisms (NPMs) under the Crimes of Torture Act (COTA), with responsibility for examining and monitoring the general conditions and treatment of detainees in New Zealand prisons.
  • Request for draft guidelines on religious instruction and observance in schools

    Case notes
    Officials still in the process of drafting—premature disclosure in advance of the planned public consultation process was not in the overall public interest
  • Report on an unannounced inspection of Arohata Upper Prison - 21 March 2018

    OPCAT reports
    The Upper Prison was facing considerable challenges. Resources, infrastructure and staffing were under pressure, which was compounded by the geographical separation from the administrative centre at Tawa. Day-to-day operating systems and arrangements for dealing with women were not fully embedded. Reception and induction processes were poor, and information for foreign prisoners was not available. Significant delays in access to personal property were a source of frustration for many women, reflected in the growing number of complaints and misconducts.
  • Early resolution of a potential water restriction to a family home

    Case notes
    A family received notice that an agency would be severely restricting its water supply because of an overdue account. Once the Ombudsman became involved, the agency reviewed its accounts and realised it was in error. On the Ombudsman’s request, the agency apologised to the family and committed to reviewing its accounts more carefully before advising of possible water restrictions. From complaint to resolution, the issue was resolved in only 12 working days without the family suffering water restrictions.
  • Administrative error leading to loss of opportunity to name a road

    Case notes
    In mid-2016, the owners of land containing a private road became aware that Kaipara District Council (the Council) had excluded them from a consultation process that it had initiated among residents earlier that year to determine a name for the road.
  • Request for draft reports prepared by EY on Information Services

    Case notes
    Draft reports were in fact final reports—some information publicly available—negotiations had been concluded—neither s 7(2)(c)(ii) nor s 7(2)(i) apply—significant public interest in release to promote transparency of Council’s decision making processes and accountability for expenditure of ratepayer money
  • Request for Skypath business case and procurement plan

    Case notes
    Releasing business case and procurement plan would unreasonably prejudice the commercial position of the private partner in a public private partnership—withholding strengths and weaknesses of negotiating position necessary to enable Council to carry on negotiations without prejudice or disadvantage—ss 7(2)(b)(ii), 7(2)(c)(i), 7(2)(i) apply
  • Request for draft internal review of International Visitor Survey

    Case notes
    Internal review still in draft form—redacted comments comprised preliminary views of individual within agency—s 9(2)(g)(i) applied—no overriding public interest in disclosure
  • 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
  • Local Authority fails to include relevant information on a Land Information Memorandum

    Case notes
    Local Authority omits to identify potential slippage risk on a Land Information Memorandum (LIM) issued to the complainant—Ombudsman sustains complaint
  • Local Authority not unreasonable to turn off water supply at property owned by a Trust

    Case notes
    Decision by Local Authority to turn off water supply in building occupied intermittently—Ombudsman finds not unreasonable
  • Request for communications between Minister of SOEs and other parties in respect of policy announcement about TVNZ

    Case notes
    Request for communications between Minister of SOEs and other parties in respect of policy announcement about TVNZ—information at issue comprised oral communications with Cabinet colleagues preceding policy announcement—withholding necessary to protect constitutional convention protecting collective and individual ministerial responsibility
  • Request for Defence Force National Real Estate Review

    Case notes
    Request for Defence Force National Real Estate Review—information withheld on basis of need to protect confidentiality of advice—report prepared by external consultants and submitted to Minister—information not advice tendered by officials—recommendation that report be released—report released with contextual statement
  • Request for Consultative Draft District Plan

    Case notes
    Consultative Draft District Plan refused under s 7(2)(f)(i)—information did not meet requirements of that section—no statutory prohibition in Resource Management Act which prevents information being made available before the date of notification—Resource Management Act 1991, s 35(2)
  • District Council accepts wider interpretation of ‘household’

    Case notes
    Imposition of two sewer charges—whether complainant’s mother part of the ‘household’— interpretation of Rating Powers Act 1988, s 30
  • Local Authority required to ensure potable water condition meets standards

    Case notes
    Complaint about potable water condition of subdivision consent where supply did not meet requirements under New Zealand Drinking Water Standards 1984 (revised 2005 and 2008)—Ombudsman found local authority failed to interpret data correctly before issuing resource consent on the subdivision—the water quality was substandard and the local authority provided incorrect advice about improving the quality—the local authority was required to compensate the complainants who had to obtain potable water from another source
  • City Council not required to consider legal costs regarding enforcement order

    Case notes
    Claim for reimbursement of legal costs incurred obtaining an Enforcement Order—Court awarded costs—insufficient to cover full costs—co-operation between complainant and City Council prior to proceedings—costs not covered in agreement—claim not upheld
  • Council accepts practical solution to resolve concerns about building consent

    Case notes
    Building consent for garage—garage constructed to wrong plans—Council issues notice to rectify—retrospective consent granted—withdrawal of notice to rectify
  • Community Boards fall under Ombudsmen jurisdiction if decision(s) made other than by Committee as a whole

    Case notes
    Jurisdiction—Community Board—decisions of full Board outside jurisdiction—scope of jurisdiction limited to acts or decisions of committees, subcommittees, officers, employees or members of Board—Ombudsmen Act 1975, s 13(1) and (2)
  • City Council offers partial rebate for charge on excess water usage

    Case notes
    Excess water usage charges—local authority policy on rebates—partial or full rebate—hidden leakage
  • 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)
  • District Council not unreasonable to retain credit balance in rates account

    Case notes
    Early payment of rates—credit balance in rates account— whether local authority has obligation to make refund on request
  • Local Authorities must comply with LGOIMA intent when setting rules

    Case notes
    A Deed of Confidentiality was distributed to Councillors for signature, with the aim to protect information relating to the Council’s business and affairs—Councillor was concerned that signing the document would conflict with the intentions under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987 (LGOIMA) and also that Councillors who don’t sign would have restrictions on information they received—Ombudsman ruled that under LGOIMA, a Council may not put rules in place which are inconsistent with the Act and Councils cannot withhold information from Councillors who have not signed that confidentiality agreement
  • 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
  • Council property sale conducted but complainants not advised about status of their objection petition

    Case notes
    Council resolved to sell property of historic significance and occupants petitioned Council to reverse its decision—Council referred petition to committees for consideration and report but before reports completed, concluded the sale of property—the occupants complained of failure of Council to follow due process (failure to report) but failure did not mean complaint could be sustained—however procedural shortcomings acknowledged by Council and apology extended to complainant
  • Local Authority fails to follow legislative procedures when setting fee for dog registration

    Case notes
    Local Authority imposes Dog Control Fees by resolution of Committee—there is a requirement for resolution of territorial authority to take particular matters to be taken into account under the Dog Control Act 1996, s 37 and Local Government Act 1974, s 114Q—Council failed to follow legislative procedures when setting registration fees
  • 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
  • Request for Police review on importation of firearms

    Case notes
    Request for access to Police review on importation of firearms—release of recommendations would undermine s 9(2)(f)(iv) but not the release of background information—public interest in disclosure outweighs need to withhold recommendations—issue of firearms control is one in which the principle of public safety is paramount—greatest possible transparency required in the making of laws and policies