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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.
  • 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
  • Ministry of Social Development (CYF) failings at Family Group Conference and remedy of ex gratia payment required

    Case notes
    Ministry of Social Development (CYF—later Oranga Tamariki) fails to recognise impact and stress caused by failings by its staff at a family Group Conference to discuss child’s future—Advisory Panel had already acknowledged many of the failings but MSD had not accepted the gravity thereof—Ombudsman’s opinion on the matter accepted and MSD (OT) finally offered reasonable ex gratia payment and meaningful apology to complainant
  • 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 staff named in emails about genetically modified corn

    Case notes
    Section 6(d) OIA did not apply—no real and objective risk of danger to safety—s 9(2)(g)(ii) OIA did not apply—many of the names were already publicly available in connection with this issue and no harm had ensued—section 9(2)(g)(i) OIA did not apply—inf
  • Request for public submissions on draft standard

    Case notes
    Members of the public with a vested interest in developing standards would not be deterred from expressing their opinions in future
  • Request for report on DHB governance issues

    Case notes
    Disclosure of report at time of request would have inhibited expression of free and frank opinions by officials—but passage of time and change in circumstances had diminished the likelihood of such prejudice—senior public servants would not be inhibited from expressing free and frank opinions in future
  • Department of Internal Affairs accepts it unreasonably interpreted requirements for death certificate

    Case notes
    Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) did not allow certain details on death certificate—complainant requested amended death certificate for father because of error relating to birth date noted on original certificate—DIA accepted the Ombudsman’s opinion that the information should be recorded as required under the legislation at the time of death
  • Request for communications between Chief of Defence Force and Prime Minister

    Case notes
    MP requested information on the restructuring of the NZDF—two letters from the Chief of Defence Force to the Prime Minister regarding draft reports withheld under s 9(2)(g)(i)—distinction between substantive comment about draft reports and minor editorial suggestions—substantive comments were recordings of Chief of Defence Force’s free and frank discussions with Prime Minister—part of Chief of Defence Force role is to advise Prime Minister but he would not have reduced comments to writing if he had thought they would be made public—free and frank comments needed to maintain constructive working relationship with Prime Minister—s 9(2)(g)(i) applied to substantive comments but not to remaining information
  • Request for early stage policy advice relating to paid parental leave

    Case notes
    Request for information relating to paid parental leave policy—information withheld to maintain collective ministerial responsibility, protect confidentiality of advice and free and frank exchange—in the circumstances no good reason to withhold
  • Request for minute from Chief of Air Staff to Chief of Defence Force

    Case notes
    Request for minute from Chief of Air Staff to Chief of Defence Force regarding return of aircraft to Samoa to uplift a civilian passenger—minute contained free and frank expressions of opinion—factual information and summary of opinions released—manner in which opinions expressed particularly frank—s 9(2)(g)(i) applied—public interest in release satisfied by release of summary
  • Ministry of Social Development has no authority to require beneficiary to appoint agent

    Case notes
    Illiterate beneficiary preferred to communicate verbally, frequently and often vociferously—the Ministry arranged for beneficiary’s solicitor to become agent—Ombudsman sought advice from Ministry as to authority it was relying on to request appointment of an agent—the Ministry confirmed there was no specific legislative authority— Ombudsman formed view that requirement unreasonable—complainant revoked agency and dealt directly with Ministry again
  • Superannuation Appeals Board reasonably relied on Crown Law advice

    Case notes
    Failure to give reasons for decision—reasons given in counsel’s written submissions adopted by Board—disclosure of reasons distinguished from merits of decision—Government Superannuation Appeals Board—Ombudsmen Act 1975—Government Superannuation Fund Act 1956, s 12(A)(2)
  • Department of Corrections failed to meet requirements before placing inmate in restrictive regime

    Case notes
    Department of Corrections placement of inmate on restrictive regime designed for the most disruptive inmates unreasonable because criteria for placement not met—placement deemed unreasonable—inmate immediately returned to mainstream
  • Department of Corrections applies prison visiting rules too rigidly

    Case notes
    Special family visit to inmate denied—decision contrary to Department's national standard—prison agreed to review its local instructions to ensure consistency with spirit and intent of national standard
  • Department of Corrections delays prisoner release when segregation order expired

    Case notes
    Delayed release from ‘precautionary segregation’—complaint upheld—implementation of computerised bring-up system to avoid recurrence of problem—no recommendation necessary