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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 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
  • 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
  • Request for policy advice behind merger of Archives and National Library

    Case notes
    Release of formal advice to Ministers about abandoned options after decisions had been made would not inhibit the free and frank expression of opinions by officials—s 9(2)(g)(i) does not apply
  • Investigation of the Department of Corrections in relation to an incident of self-harm at Christchurch Women’s Prison and the issuing of strip gowns to prisoners at risk of self harm

    Systemic investigations
    In July 2009, in accordance with the Protocol made pursuant to section 160 of the Corrections Act, I received notification from the Department of Corrections of an incident of prisoner self-harm that had occurred in the At-Risk Unit (ARU) of Christchurch Women’s Prison (CHWO).
  • Investigation of the Department of Corrections in relation to an incident of self-harm at New Plymouth Prison and the Department’s disposable safety razor policy

    Systemic investigations
    On 11 May 2009, the Department of Corrections instituted a new national policy on razor blades for prisoners. The purpose of the policy was to reduce the number of incidents involving razor blades. It applied to those prisoners accommodated in High Security, Remand and Youth Units. These prisoners would no longer be allowed to stockpile or keep issue razor blades. The aim of the policy was interpreted as intending to limit the opportunity for self-harm by misuse of razor blades.
  • Department of Corrections made errors in documentation but parole hearing set correctly

    Case notes
    Whether Department of Corrections staff failed complainant with respect to a Parole Board hearing—Ombudsman found errors in documentation but complainant not disadvantaged
  • Department of Corrections unreasonable to place prisoner with mental illness in mainstream unit

    Case notes
    Whether the Department of Corrections was unreasonable to place prisoner in mainstream unit given specific medical condition of mental illness—Ombudsman upheld complaint
  • Request for audit information regarding JobPlus scheme

    Case notes
    Draft audit report was identical to final audit report—no good reason to withhold the final audit report so no good reason to withhold the draft—good reason to withhold auditor’s informal and early working papers under s 9(2)(g)(i)—disclosure of the working papers would make auditors more circumspect in what they record, and when and how they record it
  • Request for Minister/Chief Executive discussions

    Case notes
    Disclosure of full record of recollection of discussion between Minister and Chief Executive would inhibit future expression of free and frank opinions—summary of recollection released
  • Request for auditor’s working papers

    Case notes
    Disclosure of auditor’s scoping discussions and working papers would make auditors more circumspect in what they record, and when and how they record it—good reason to withhold under s 9(2)(g)(i)
  • 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 recruitment consultant expenditure

    Case notes
    No cost code specifically and solely for recruitment fees—information could not be made available without ‘substantial collation or research’—release of other information resolved the complaint
  • 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
  • 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