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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.
  • Administrative error resulting in lost opportunity for ACC claim

    Case notes
    A patient who was unaware he had asbestosis underwent a CT scan while being treated at a DHB Hospital. On the scan’s accompanying notes a radiologist noted previous asbestos exposure. This CT scan with accompanying notes was misfiled, for unknown reasons, and the patient’s diagnosis of asbestosis was not confirmed until autopsy.
  • Ministry of Health unreasonably disallowed visiting Australian resident access to publicly funded health services

    Case notes
    Whether the Ministry of Health was unreasonable to determine that medical treatment obtained by a visitor to New Zealand was not ‘immediately necessary’ and therefore not covered by reciprocal health agreement with Australia – Ombudsman considered the Ministry of Health erred – complaint sustained
  • 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 draft documents, internal emails, handwritten notes regarding Government response to Law Commission discussion paper

    Case notes
    Disclosure of draft documents would inhibit future expression of free and frank opinions by officials—s 9(2)(g)(i) applies
  • Request for Ministerial briefing on Auckland CBD rail loop

    Case notes
    Disclosure of ministerial briefing conveyed under pressure of time would inhibit future expression of free and frank opinions by officials—s 9(2)(g)(i) applied—public interest met by release of later document
  • Request for internal complaint assessment memorandum

    Case notes
    Disclosure of preliminary complaint assessment memo would make complaints assessment staff reluctant in future to fully express their views in writing—s 9(2)(g)(i) provides good reason to withhold
  • Request for crisis group reports and working material regarding Government’s response to kidnapping

    Case notes
    Request for information about Government’s response to kidnapping of NZ resident in Baghdad—s 9(2)(g)(i) provides good reason to withhold crisis group reports and working material but not the final review of the hostage-taking—public interest met by disclosure of final review—final review released with redactions
  • District Health Board’s processes regarding informed consent for assisted reproductive procedure not unreasonable

    Case notes
    Whether a District Health Board (DHB) failed to ensure the complainant received adequate professional advice before being required to sign a legal document surrendering substantial legal rights—whether that document was ‘informed consent’—Ombudsman concluded DHB had not acted unreasonably in this matter
  • Investigation of the Department of Corrections in relation to the complaint procedures of Corrections Inmate Employment

    Systemic investigations
    Corrections Inmate Employment (CIE) is a branch of the Department of Corrections’ (the Department) Rehabilitation and Re-integration Services group. It operates various industries at the prisons, which afford prisoners employment while they are in prison. Following the receipt of complaints from prisoners employed by CIE, concern was expressed about how CIE was handling prisoners’ complaints. I was uncertain whether this concern was justified. I decided it was appropriate on my own motion to undertake an investigation into the efficiency and effectiveness of the complaint procedures by which prisoners employed by CIE may complain to the Department about CIE and its staff.
  • Request for draft public consultation document

    Case notes
    Only minor differences between draft and final consultation document—final consultation document was publicly available—release would not inhibit the free and frank expression of opinions necessary for the effective conduct of public affairs
  • Request for internal discussion paper on privatisation

    Case notes
    Two drafts of an internal discussion paper commissioned by Treasury’s Executive Leadership Team—Government had not sought advice on the issue—s 9(2)(g)(i) provides good reason to withhold
  • 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
  • Failure by health funding body to honour undertaking by predecessor funding body to fund gender reassignment surgery unreasonable

    Case notes
    The Health Funding Authority (disestablished in 2001) was required to consider a complaint against its predecessor (Regional Health Authority) about an agreement by RHA to fund gender reassignment surgery—the RHA had initially agreed to fund this surgery but then changed its policy—the Ombudsman concluded that it was unreasonable for the RHA not to honour this undertaking on the basis of a subsequent change in policy and that its successor, the HFA should remedy the unreasonable actions of its predecessor—the HFA agreed with the Ombudsman’s recommendations to fund the gender reassignment surgery in the manner originally approved—as the HFA was by this time disestablished the matter was passed to the Ministry of Health for completion
  • Medical Practitioners’ Disciplinary Tribunal outside Ombudsman’s jurisdiction

    Case notes
    Complaint about Medical Practitioners’ Disciplinary Tribunal decision to strike off a doctor and media coverage of the hearing—no jurisdiction to investigate—Ombudsman has discretion to investigate matters of administration with respect to the Health and Disability Commissioner’s investigation into the doctor’s medical practices but only if complainant has sufficient interest in the subject-matter of complaint and consent from the doctor
  • 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