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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 names of staff and contractors involved in producing crime and safety survey

    Case notes
    Section 9(2)(g)(ii) OIA applied to staff names—on basis of past conduct Ombudsman satisfied that requester would engage in improper pressure or harassment that would impact on the Ministry’s ability to attract and retain staff and contactors—section 9(2
  • 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
  • Request for names of MSD staff in emails about the drafting of a Bill

    Case notes
    Section 9(2)(a) OIA did not apply—not necessary to withhold staff names to protect their privacy—no information to suggest privacy or safety concerns, or risk of improper pressure or harassment.
  • 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 staff names in employment investigation report into Joanne Harrison

    Case notes
    Section 9(2)(a) OIA applied—significant privacy interest given the nature and content of report and impact on individuals—no public interest override.
  • 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.
  • 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 names and address for service of two Police officers

    Case notes
    Section 9(2)(a) and 9(2)(g)(ii) OIA applied—past conduct suggested the requester would publish information targeting or encouraging others to target the officers in a way that would breach their personal privacy, and subject them to improper pressure or
  • 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
  • Request for offender’s photo on police file

    Case notes
    Rape victim sought photograph of attacker whose face she had never seen—Police refused the request to protect the privacy of the offender—s 9(2)(a) applied—public interest in assisting victims of crime to recover from trauma and move on with their lives—balance of competing privacy and public interest considerations needed to be made—appropriate to make photograph available for viewing subject to appropriate conditions
  • Request for qualifications and work history of staff at Polytechnic Department

    Case notes
    Request for details about staff at Polytechnic—withheld under s 9(2)(a) to protect privacy—public interest in ensuring employment practices of Polytechnic are transparent and fair—met by summary release of staff details and selection process
  • 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
  • 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
  • Request by non-custodial parent for children’s school reports

    Case notes
    Request by non-custodial father for school reports of two daughters—father accused of indecently assaulting daughters—father denied charges—information required for defence—s 9(2)(a) applicable, but public interest under s 9(1) in right to justice outweighed complete protection
  • Request for information about a victim of crime

    Case notes
    Request for information about victim of crime—information needed for petition to Governor-General—balance to be struck between privacy interest and public interest in justice
  • 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
  • School Boards should record reasons for decisions to suspend

    Case notes
    Suspension from school for marijuana smoking—school procedures provided for suspension for drug use—application of principles of High Court decision in M & R v Palmerston North Boys High School—need for transparency in decision-making—consideration of requirements of s.23 of the Official Information Act 1982