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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 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.
  • 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 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
  • 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 staff named in emails about genetically modified corn

    Case notes
    Section 6(d) OIA did not apply—no real and objective risk of danger to safety—s 9(2)(g)(ii) OIA did not apply—many of the names were already publicly available in connection with this issue and no harm had ensued—section 9(2)(g)(i) OIA did not apply—inf
  • Request for public submissions on draft standard

    Case notes
    Members of the public with a vested interest in developing standards would not be deterred from expressing their opinions in future
  • Request for Hazardous Activities and Industries List

    Opinions
    On 4 September 2008 Mr Sharpe sought from the Council “details of the 3099 ‘Unverified HAIL’ sites in the region, i.e. their location and the activity/industry that are known to have the potential to cause land contamination”.
  • Request for charitable trust’s funding application

    Case notes
    Trust does not have a commercial position—even if it did, release of the information would not be likely unreasonably to prejudice it—the trust has no competitors, and is very different to other organisations in terms of its size, nature of operations and services¬—s 9(2)(b)(ii) does not apply
  • Request for names of tenderers and prices

    Case notes
    Release of names and total prices, as opposed to detailed pricing or market strategy, would not be likely unreasonably to prejudice the tenderers’ commercial positions—public interest in release to promote integrity and transparency of the tender process—s 7(2)(b)(ii) does not apply
  • Request for report on DHB governance issues

    Case notes
    Disclosure of report at time of request would have inhibited expression of free and frank opinions by officials—but passage of time and change in circumstances had diminished the likelihood of such prejudice—senior public servants would not be inhibited from expressing free and frank opinions in future
  • Local Authority unreasonable to review peppercorn rental without prior notice

    Case notes
    Peppercorn rent paid to Council for encroachment licence fee for garage—Council increased amount—inconsistent process—Ombudsman viewed increase unreasonable because of lack of notice
  • Local Authority and property vendors both responsible for checking lease agreement

    Case notes
    Local Authority—unreasonable not to have contacted previous lease holder three months after licence to occupy had expired and before agreeing to lease land to another person—Local Authority agrees to apologise to complainant
  • Local Authority not unreasonable to allow retrospective consents on building already constructed

    Case notes
    Local Authority issued an abatement notice to developers—Ombudsman concludes it was reasonable for Council to allow building to proceed while consent process completed—Council acted in accordance with the Resource Management Act (RMA)
  • Local Authority unreasonably failed to consider planning implications for building addition

    Case notes
    Local Authority unreasonable to require the complainant to obtain a resource consent for completed building work, which had been authorised by the Council three years previously
  • Regional Authority’s tender process inadequate

    Case notes
    Regional Council’s tender processes unreasonable, although the tender was incomplete, the Council officer contacted complainant after close of tenders to clarify his tender—having allowed an incomplete tender to proceed and provided complainant with an opportunity to clarify the tender, it was unreasonable for that clarification not to have been provided to the Tender Committee