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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 corporate culture information contained in bus tender submissions

    Case notes
    Competitors could use the information to compare and refine their own submissions, potentially reducing the successful tenderers’ competitive advantage in future tender rounds—this would be likely unreasonably to prejudice the commercial position of the successful tenderers— s 7(2)(b)(ii) applies—public interest in accountability for the Council’s decision required release of a summary statement
  • 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
  • Request for cost of digital and touch wall at new Christchurch Library

    Case notes
    Release would undermine supplier’s negotiations with other buyers which would unreasonably prejudice its commercial position—public interest in disclosure of information regarding Council expenditure outweighs withholding interest
  • 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
  • Request for cost of fees paid to a law firm

    Case notes
    Release of total fees would not unreasonably prejudice third party’s commercial position
  • 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 expenditure on goods and services provided by Palantir Technologies

    Case notes
    Release of total cost would not unreasonably prejudice third party’s commercial position—public interest in accountability for spending public money
  • 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.
  • Request for emails between MP and university researchers

    Case notes
    Section 9(2)(ba)(i) OIA did not apply—no obligation of confidence—information voluntarily supplied with no reference to confidentiality—release of ‘benign’ information with the consent of the supplier would not be likely to prejudice the future supply o
  • 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 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
  • 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 DHB draft annual plan

    Case notes
    District Health Board—draft annual plan—need for Board and Minister of Health to reach agreement on plan prior to release—New Zealand Public Health and Disability Act 2000
  • Request for answers to Parliamentary questions

    Case notes
    Request to Housing New Zealand Limited for alternative Parliamentary answers prepared for Minister of Housing—request refused under s 9(2)(g)(i)—ss 9(2)(f)(iv) and 9(2)(ba)(ii) discussed—meaning of ‘officials’—obligation of confidence applied—s 9(2)(ba)(ii) applied—parliamentary process satisfied public interest
  • Request for hydrological data

    Case notes
    Request for hydrological data—supplier of information to local authority opposed to release to the requester—prejudice to future supply
  • Request for name of food outlet in outbreak of food poisoning

    Case notes
    Request for name of food outlet implicated in outbreak of food poisoning in circumstances where the class of outlet had received publicity—health authority satisfied with remedial measures taken—information withheld on grounds of commercial prejudice—identification and assessment of countervailing public interest considerations favouring disclosure
  • Council agreed to purchase land containing toxic residue given that purchasers were unaware of site state

    Case notes
    Prior to availability of a LIM, property owners’ development of their land revealed previous use was illegal toxic waste dump—Council knew this prior to purchase but had taken no action to either assess or remedy the problem as a matter of public safety—Ombudsman concluded the Council had a responsibility to assist the complainants—Council then purchased the land with the intention of declaring it an ‘orphan site’ prior to assessment and clean up if necessary.
  • 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
  • Council offers ex gratia payment to complainant following its failure to provide correct information about dispute between neighbours

    Case notes
    Abatement notice issued in respect of non-complying structure—verbal agreement brokered by Council regarding acceptable modifications—modifications undertaken as agreed—other party to agreement disputed terms of agreement and withdrew—Council provided incorrect calculations regarding non-compliance—owner of non-complying structure incurred nugatory expenses—Council agreed to make ex-gratia payment to resolve matter
  • 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