Office of the Inspectorate

Corrections has a team of independent inspectors who check on the fair, safe, secure and humane treatment of prisoners and people detained within the Corrections system.

The Inspectors report directly to the Chief Executive and operate under the Corrections Act 2004 and the Corrections Regulations 2005.

Independence and objectivity

Inspectorate staff are independent of the activities and complaints they investigate.  This independence is necessary to maintain objectivity and integrity.

They can recommend changes to departmental systems, processes and practices but they are not involved in designing, implementing or operating the systems.

Enhancing the Inspectorate

Early in 2017 the Inspectorate became known as the Office of the Inspectorate. It was expanded to allow a programme of ongoing reviews in the form of prison inspections.

These will ensure that the operational issues associated with prisons safeguard the fair, safe and humane treatment of prisoners, and that emerging risks and good practice are identified early.

Inspections

The new Inspections team will conduct a schedule of regular prison inspections. The prison inspections will:

  • provide a robust, strength-based, risk-driven ‘window into prisons’
  • identify innovation and good practice
  • give early warning of emerging risks and themes.

Reports will provide assurance for the Chief Executive and the Minister, and summaries will be published to promote transparency and enhance public accountability.

Summaries of these inspection reports will be made publicly available to promote transparency and accountability.

Handling complaints

One of the primary functions of inspectors is to investigate complaints from people who believe they have been treated unfairly or unreasonably by the Department of Corrections.

Making a formal complaint is a valid way of alerting us to a potential problem in the way we do things. By investigating such complaints – either by the Office of the Inspectorate or independent bodies such as the Office of the Ombudsmen – we can gain a realistic understanding of how or where things might be going wrong.

The Office of the Inspectorate is committed to the impartial investigation of complaints that have not been resolved to the satisfaction of the complainant after completing the internal complaint handling process of the relevant Corrections agency.

Our complaints process

Ideally complaints are resolved at the lowest level as soon as possible.

For example, complaints about issues in prison need to be made to a corrections officer first.  In the community that person may be a probation officer.

If unresolved, the next step is to escalate the complaint to the relevant Prison Director, District Manager or the Complaints Response Desk.

If the person who complained is not satisfied with the outcome of the internal complaints process the Office of the Inspectorate can make an impartial investigation into the complaint.

Inspectors will generally not investigate any complaint which has not been through the complaints process where the complaint originated.

Sometimes, for safety or practical reasons, complaints can be made directly to inspectors. Inspectors report individual complaints to management at both a local and national level. They also monitor the steps taken to resolve complaints.

If an inspector looks into a complaint they will tell the person who complained about the outcome and keep them informed along the way.

If the person who complained is in prison, they will usually be kept up to date by email and/or telephone contact through prison management.

Investigations

Inspectors deal with a range of investigations.

The Chief Executive can direct the Inspectorate to investigate any matter concerned with the secure custody and safe, fair and humane treatment of offenders in prison and in the community.

Our Chief Inspector sets out the terms of reference for each investigation and assigns the job an Inspector in the investigations team.

Inspectors have unrestricted access to all personnel, facilities, information, documentation, files, records or property under Corrections’ care or control.

Deaths in custody

All death-in-custody events in New Zealand prisons are investigated by Inspectors. Their reports to the Chief Executive (CE) are submitted as evidence at subsequent Coroner’s Court inquests.

How to contact an inspector

Inspectors can be contacted directly by mail or by calling and leaving a message on 0800 225 697.

Voice messages, emails and letters must include the caller’s name, contact details, and details about the complaint.

Office of the Inspectorate 0800 225 697

Email: theinspector@corrections.govt.nz

Postal address:

The Office of the Inspectorate
Department of Corrections
Private Box 1206
Wellington