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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 names of staff and contractors involved in producing crime and safety survey

    Case notes
    Section 9(2)(g)(ii) OIA applied to staff names—on basis of past conduct Ombudsman satisfied that requester would engage in improper pressure or harassment that would impact on the Ministry’s ability to attract and retain staff and contactors—section 9(2
  • 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
  • Request for names of MSD staff in emails about the drafting of a Bill

    Case notes
    Section 9(2)(a) OIA did not apply—not necessary to withhold staff names to protect their privacy—no information to suggest privacy or safety concerns, or risk of improper pressure or harassment.
  • 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 staff names in employment investigation report into Joanne Harrison

    Case notes
    Section 9(2)(a) OIA applied—significant privacy interest given the nature and content of report and impact on individuals—no public interest override.
  • 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 names and address for service of two Police officers

    Case notes
    Section 9(2)(a) and 9(2)(g)(ii) OIA applied—past conduct suggested the requester would publish information targeting or encouraging others to target the officers in a way that would breach their personal privacy, and subject them to improper pressure or
  • 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 email communications between councillors relating to industrial dispute

    Case notes
    Disclosure of informal emails between councillors in highly sensitive context would inhibit future expression of free and frank opinions—s 7(2)(f)(i) provides good reason to withhold
  • Request for draft report to Ombudsman

    Case notes
    Release of draft report to Ombudsman would inhibit the free and frank expression of opinions—s 9(2)(g)(i) applies
  • Investigation of the Department of Corrections in relation to the provision, access and availability of prisoner health services

    Systemic investigations
    This own motion report, unlike others we have undertaken, did not arise from specific incidents within the prison system, nor from the number of complaints we receive from prisoners.  Our investigation has identified that prisoners have reasonable access to Health Services and generally they receive healthcare equivalent to members of the wider community. However, the service is not without its problems and in the future, it may not be able to meet the healthcare needs of such a diverse population effectively.
  • Request for comments on draft correspondence and draft assessment report

    Case notes
    Release of comments on draft correspondence and draft assessment report would inhibit the free and frank expression of opinions—s 9(2)(g)(i) applies
  • Request for information about an employment investigation (personal grievance)

    Case notes
    Privacy and confidentiality grounds apply but need for accountability when things go wrong— seniority of the individuals involved—extent of information in the public domain—other means of scrutiny and regulation—third party review satisfied the public interest in this case
  • Request for information about an employment investigation (withholding grounds)

    Case notes
    Privacy and confidentiality grounds applied—need for accountability when things go wrong— extent of information in the public domain—need to provide the ‘full picture’—nature and seriousness of the wrongdoing¬—whether other means of scrutiny or regulation—release of summary information to satisfy public interest
  • Submission of the Ombudsmen - Corrections Amendment Bill

    Submissions
    We had a limited opportunity to comment on the draft Corrections Amendment Bill (the Bill) and some amendments were made as a consequence of our submissions.  However, there remain other matters which concern us.
  • Request for communications strategy relating to legal aid reform

    Case notes
    Request for information about a communications strategy—s 9(2)(g)(i) provides good reason to withhold two sentences
  • Request for comments generated during OIA decision making process

    Case notes
    Disclosure would inhibit advisors or officials from expressing or recording free and frank advice on OIA requests in the future—good reason to withhold under s 9(2)(g)(i)
  • Request for draft press releases

    Case notes
    Release would impact on the effectiveness of the process of drafting press releases in future, because officials would be reluctant to be candid or to openly express their initial thoughts in writing—s 9(2)(g)(i) applies
  • Request for draft ministerial inquiry report

    Case notes
    Release of early and annotated draft would inhibit ministerial appointees from expressing free and frank opinions in future and sharing drafts with the Ministry of Justice—public interest met by availability of final report—s 9(2)(g)(i) applies
  • Request for information concerning review of Oil Pollution Fund and MNZ’s preparedness to respond to oil spill

    Case notes
    Consulting with requester in fulsome way removed reason for refusal
  • Request for offender’s photo on police file

    Case notes
    Rape victim sought photograph of attacker whose face she had never seen—Police refused the request to protect the privacy of the offender—s 9(2)(a) applied—public interest in assisting victims of crime to recover from trauma and move on with their lives—balance of competing privacy and public interest considerations needed to be made—appropriate to make photograph available for viewing subject to appropriate conditions
  • Request for qualifications and work history of staff at Polytechnic Department

    Case notes
    Request for details about staff at Polytechnic—withheld under s 9(2)(a) to protect privacy—public interest in ensuring employment practices of Polytechnic are transparent and fair—met by summary release of staff details and selection process
  • 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