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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 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
  • Request for statistics on allegations of assault by Corrections staff

    Case notes
    Requirements of Operations Manual meant source information to answer request should be held—manual compilation is not creation—s 18(g) does not apply—unreasonable to rely on s 18(f) when the fundamental difficulty in providing the information was down to the Department’s own administrative lapses
  • 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 draft advice on establishing a reserve

    Case notes
    Release of early and annotated advice would inhibit the free and frank exchange of opinions between officials drafting advice—general public interest in transparency had been met by disclosure of technical papers that formed the basis of the advice to the Minister, together with the final advice paper
  • Request for draft ministerial and chief executive correspondence

    Case notes
    Release of draft ministerial and chief executive correspondence would inhibit the free and frank expression opinions—s 9(2)(g)(i) applies
  • Request for draft document on Starting Price Adjustment Input Methodology

    Opinions
    For the reasons set out below, I am of the opinion that the Commerce Commission was entitled, under section 9(2)(g)(i) of the Official Information Act 1982 (OIA), to withhold a copy of a draft of a Starting Price Adjustment Input Methodology reque
  • Local Authority not unreasonable to impound horse found untethered on road reserve

    Case notes
    Whether a local authority was unreasonable to impound a horse found untethered on a road reserve—Ombudsman concluded the Regional Council acted reasonably in the circumstances
  • 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
  • Local Authority unreasonable to note requirement for fencing on LIM without inspection

    Case notes
    Whether Local Authority reasonable to include information on Land Information Memorandum (‘LIM’) when property had not been properly inspected—Ombudsman found the Council had no justification for including notation on the LIM and action unreasonable
  • Local Authority unreasonably issued Trespass Notice without warning or opportunity to comment

    Case notes
    Local Authority issued a 2-year trespass notice on complainant immediately in response to disruptive behaviour at a meeting—Ombudsman of opinion that this was unreasonable—no prior warning given first
  • Local Authority fails to independently assess affected parties to a resource consent application

    Case notes
    Local Authority failed to independently identify the parties affected by a resource consent application—applicant had provided Council with a list of affected parties which the Council accepted without independently identifying those parties
  • Request for information about submissions received on marine reserve application

    Case notes
    Request for information about submissions on marine reserve application—refused under s 18(f)—20 bound files of submissions—8-9 hours of staff time to respond to the requests did not amount to ‘substantial collation and research’—Department ultimately allowed requester to personally research the 20 bound files to collate the information sought
  • Request for information relating to local authority resource consent fee

    Case notes
    Request for variety of information relating to local authority resource consent fee—numerous previous requests for official information—some information refused under s 17(h)—requests not deemed frivolous or vexatious, but information could not be made available without substantial collation and research
  • Local Authority rejects Ombudsman’s recommendation to monitor nuisance as required under RMA

    Case notes
    Local Authority failed to respond to complaints from residents about dust and noise nuisance. What it should have done was to consider complaints from residents by undertaking relevant surveys and tests to determine the extent of the problem being complained about (this is a responsibility under ss17 and 35 of the Resource Management Act 1991)—complaint sustained —Ombudsman recommended the Local Authority monitor noise and nuisance effects—recommendation rejected
  • Local Authority issued a Project Information Memorandum (PIM) unlawfully

    Case notes
    Property developer changed basis of development and obtained new Project Information Memorandum (PIM) containing conditions not prescribed in s 31(2) of the Building Act 1991—complainant considered the contents of the PIM unauthorised as the changes had not been agreed to by purchasers of the owner developing the property and action incurring legal expenses—Ombudsman found PIM not issued lawfully but agreed for Authority to amend the PIM to comply with LGOIMA—complainant offered ex gratia payment in recognition of legal costs incurred
  • Local Authority issues non-notified resource consent for vacant site

    Case notes
    Non-notified resource consent application granted for vacant site – neighbours claimed damage resulted from excavations and complained about the height of the building erected—Ombudsman investigated and found no apparent breach of s 94 of the Resource Management Act or District Plan rules and concluded the Local Authority was not unreasonable to issue a non-notified consent in this case—complaint not sustained—question of liability for damage allegedly incurred by complainants was a civil matter to be pursued in the courts
  • 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
  • Local Authorities should avoid unnecessary delay processing resource consents

    Case notes
    Time limits for decisions made in respect of resource consent applications—ss 21 and 115 of the Resource Management Act—processing delays—responsibility of local authorities to avoid unreasonable delays