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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.
  • 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 business plan for Christchurch Convention and Exhibition Centre

    Case notes
    Competitors could copy or adopt third party’s methodology and strategy and devise plans based on its established operating systems which would unreasonably prejudice its commercial position—information subject to an explicit obligation of confidence and of a confidential nature—release would damage the public interest by making suppliers reluctant to participate in future procurement processes
  • 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.
  • 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 venue development strategy

    Case notes
    Draft venue development strategy prepared by consultant—refused because commercial and confidential—analysis preliminary and high-level—s 7(2)(f)(i) applies—public interest requires disclosure of a summary statement
  • 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
  • Request for email communications between councillors relating to industrial dispute

    Case notes
    Disclosure of informal emails between councillors in highly sensitive context would inhibit future expression of free and frank opinions—s 7(2)(f)(i) provides good reason to withhold
  • Request for draft report to Ombudsman

    Case notes
    Release of draft report to Ombudsman would inhibit the free and frank expression of opinions—s 9(2)(g)(i) applies
  • Request for draft audit report in relation to hospice

    Case notes
    Audit still in process and at the draft reporting phases—s 9(2)(ba)(i) and 9(2)(ba)(ii) provide good reason to withhold—limited distribution of confidential drafts for comment has long been considered a sound administrative practice in the public sector—public interest met through disclosure of final audit report
  • Local authority events funding

    Official information
    This guide sets out principles applying to requests for information about events funding by local authorities, including the reasons for withholding and the public interest in release.
  • Investigation of the Department of Corrections in relation to the provision, access and availability of prisoner health services

    Systemic investigations
    This own motion report, unlike others we have undertaken, did not arise from specific incidents within the prison system, nor from the number of complaints we receive from prisoners.  Our investigation has identified that prisoners have reasonable access to Health Services and generally they receive healthcare equivalent to members of the wider community. However, the service is not without its problems and in the future, it may not be able to meet the healthcare needs of such a diverse population effectively.
  • Request for comments on draft correspondence and draft assessment report

    Case notes
    Release of comments on draft correspondence and draft assessment report would inhibit the free and frank expression of opinions—s 9(2)(g)(i) applies
  • Request for information about an employment investigation (personal grievance)

    Case notes
    Privacy and confidentiality grounds apply but need for accountability when things go wrong— seniority of the individuals involved—extent of information in the public domain—other means of scrutiny and regulation—third party review satisfied the public interest in this case
  • Request for information about an employment investigation (withholding grounds)

    Case notes
    Privacy and confidentiality grounds applied—need for accountability when things go wrong— extent of information in the public domain—need to provide the ‘full picture’—nature and seriousness of the wrongdoing¬—whether other means of scrutiny or regulation—release of summary information to satisfy public interest
  • Submission of the Ombudsmen - Corrections Amendment Bill

    Submissions
    We had a limited opportunity to comment on the draft Corrections Amendment Bill (the Bill) and some amendments were made as a consequence of our submissions.  However, there remain other matters which concern us.
  • Request for communications strategy relating to legal aid reform

    Case notes
    Request for information about a communications strategy—s 9(2)(g)(i) provides good reason to withhold two sentences
  • Request for comments generated during OIA decision making process

    Case notes
    Disclosure would inhibit advisors or officials from expressing or recording free and frank advice on OIA requests in the future—good reason to withhold under s 9(2)(g)(i)
  • Request for draft press releases

    Case notes
    Release would impact on the effectiveness of the process of drafting press releases in future, because officials would be reluctant to be candid or to openly express their initial thoughts in writing—s 9(2)(g)(i) applies
  • Request for draft ministerial inquiry report

    Case notes
    Release of early and annotated draft would inhibit ministerial appointees from expressing free and frank opinions in future and sharing drafts with the Ministry of Justice—public interest met by availability of final report—s 9(2)(g)(i) applies
  • 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
  • Request for research data held by Crown Research Institute

    Case notes
    Research data subject to clear confidentiality assurances—some farmers would be reluctant to participate in similar trials if released—s 9(2)(ba)(i) applies
  • Request for list of all strategic goods exported from New Zealand

    Case notes
    Request for list of all strategic goods exported from New Zealand—some information provided but name of exporter and value before tax of strategic goods withheld—9(2)(ba)(i) applied—residual issue of public accountability resolved following inquiries under s 13(3) of the Ombudsmen Act 1975—MFAT agreed that in future, it would disclose in its annual report the statistics it had previously made available only on request
  • Request for details of out-of-court settlements and costs

    Case notes
    Request for details of out-of-court settlements and costs—ss 9(2)(ba)(ii) and 9(2)(j) found to apply—no countervailing public interest
  • Request for names of ‘eminent New Zealanders’ consulted during preparation of Intelligence and Security Agencies Bill

    Case notes
    Request for names of ‘eminent New Zealanders’ who were part of the consultative process in preparing the Intelligence and Security Agencies Bill—request refused under s 9(2)(g)(i) —individuals consulted—in respect of those who advised that disclosure would inhibit them from giving free and frank advice to the Government in future, section 9(2)(g)(i) applied—need to withhold outweighed by countervailing public interest
  • Prison unnecessarily holds inmates in secure unit

    Case notes
    Placement of minimum secure inmates in maximum security conditions