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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 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.
  • 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 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 documentation about ‘Ageing in Place’ contract

    Case notes
    Release of detailed proposals and component prices would have an adverse effect on tenderers’ responses to future tenders issued by the DHB, which would damage the public interest—s 9(2)(ba)(ii) OIA applies—release would have an inhibiting effect in future on the quality of the documentation associated with the DHB’s contract negotiations and tender evaluation, which would be prejudicial to the future conduct of such tenders—s 9(2)(g)(i) applies
  • Request for discussions between Ministers on business before Cabinet

    Case notes
    Discussions between Ministers on business before Cabinet imbued with a presumption of confidentiality—s 9(2)(g)(i) provides good reason to withhold undocumented discussions
  • Request for draft public discussion document regarding auditor regulation

    Case notes
    Close-to-final draft containing limited evidence of opinion material—risk of public misunderstanding of the status of this draft document did not justify withholding and could be addressed by disclosure of contextual information—strong public interest in transparency of the policy development process given full-scale public consultation no longer intended
  • 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 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)
  • School Board of Trustees agrees to address significant deficiencies in suspension procedure

    Case notes
    Suspension and expulsion of student where several significant deficiencies were identified in the procedures of the Board’s disciplinary committee led to the Board of Trustees agreeing to review its procedures and apologise to student and family—the Board also amended student’s records to show the suspension decision was invalid—the Board’s willingness to address its deficiencies were notable in this case (Board members were all new to the role)
  • School Board of Trustee and Principal failed to follow disciplinary process; contrary to law

    Case notes
    School Board of Trustees fails to follow statutory criteria for suspension of student (failure to provide guidance and counselling)—suspending a student is a serious step requiring careful consideration—the Ombudsman’s investigation of a wide-ranging complaint by a mother about the manner in which a school had dealt with various aspects of her two sons’ behaviour, culminating in the indefinite suspension of one of her sons, highlighted the need for Principals and Boards of Trustees to familiarise themselves thoroughly with the procedural requirements of s 13 of the Education Act 1989
  • 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)
  • 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
  • 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