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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
  • Immigration New Zealand’s decision to issue Deportation Liability Notice unreasonable in circumstances

    Case notes
    Immigration New Zealand (INZ)’s decision to issue a Deportation Liability Notice (DLN) was unreasonable—compliance officer inferred situation that complainant was then not given an opportunity to explain—Ombudsman sustained complaint—INZ restored immigration status to complainant with open conditions
  • 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
  • Immigration New Zealand unreasonably fails to accept Court Order as evidence in work permit application

    Case notes
    Immigration New Zealand (INZ), declined an application for a work permit made under its victims of domestic violence policy—Ombudsman concluded INZ incorrect to ignore the evidence provided of domestic violence—INZ agreed to amend policy to include final protection orders as evidence of domestic violence
  • Investigation of the Department of Corrections in relation to the transport of prisoners

    Systemic investigations
    Under the Ombudsmen Act 1975, it is a function of the Ombudsmen to investigate complaints relating to matters of administration affecting persons in their personal capacity against various bodies, including the Department of Corrections (the Department). Pursuant to this Act, the Ombudsmen have power to investigate complaints by prisoners about all aspects of their detention by the Department. On 25 August 2006, prisoner Liam Ashley died as a result of injuries sustained while being transported in a van with other prisoners. Liam was aged 17, and had been the subject of violence by a 25 year old prisoner who was subsequently convicted of Liam’s murder. The Corrections Act 2004 aims to ensure that “custodial sentences and related orders … are administered in a safe, secure, humane, and effective manner”. It is a fundamental responsibility of the Department to achieve this.
  • Request for advice and ‘think piece’ on reprioritisation or savings in Vote Education

    Case notes
    Disclosure of internal discussion documents and advice to Ministers would prejudice ongoing decision making process—disclosure of internal ‘think piece’ would inhibit future expression of free and frank opinions by officials—ss 9(2)(f)(iv) and 9(2)(g)(i) provide good reason to withhold
  • Request for draft briefings to the incoming government

    Case notes
    Disclosure of draft briefings to the incoming government would make officials reluctant to be so free and frank in expressing their initial and untested views and cause them to prefer less efficient and transparent verbal exchanges—section 9(2)(g)(i) applies
  • 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
  • Appeal to Immigration’s Removal Review Authority not dependent on timeliness of visa application process

    Case notes
    Delay in processing application for further visitor’s permit does not hinder an appeal to the Removal Review Authority - Visitor lodged application for further visitor’s permit on day his current permit expired – NZIS advised him 82 days later that his application was declined – also advised him that he should have lodged an appeal against removal 40 days ago – visitor aware of expiry date of original permit and of requirements when seeking a further permit – Ombudsman did not consider NZIS application process or advice was unreasonable – appeal rights to Removal Review Authority not dependent on timeliness of application process – no grounds for Ombudsman to investigate