CChief Inspector Andy Fitzharris talks to us about the changing Inspectorateorrections’ inspectors check and report on the fair, safe, secure and humane treatment of prisoners and people detained within the Corrections system.

The role of a Prison Inspector was established under the Penal Institutions Act 1954. The current Inspectorate works under powers stated in the Corrections Act 2004 to provide assurance to the Chief Executive around the delivery of Corrections’ services.

The Inspectorate is currently undergoing an expansion and implementing changes that will allow them to focus on a cycle of in-depth, ‘free and frank’ prison reviews, which will be made public, in addition to their statutory functions under the Corrections Act, of investigating prisoner complaints. The first inspection will be at Manawatu Prison starting in March 2017.

Traditionally, they have visited all public and private prisons, investigated complaints and incidents including deaths in custody, and conducted thematic reviews.

Based on these in-depth investigations, inspectors produce reports with recommended actions, which are then then considered by the Chief Executive and decisions are then made about what actions will be taken as a result.

As part of the package of enhancements to the Inspectorate, Corrections will be advertising for a new Chief Inspector. The new Chief Inspector will have a wider scope than the current role, and will oversee the new programme of inspections along with the traditional work of investigating complaints and undertaking reviews.

Andy Fitzharris, current Chief Inspector, will continue to oversee the traditional Inspectorate team.

The team has recently recruited five new Inspector roles and is currently looking to fill a further three positions.

Andy welcomes these changes and the additional resourcing to the wider Inspectorate team.

“We’re never short of work here,” says Andy. “The Inspectors are always very busy whether it be talking to prisoners, looking into their complaints, visiting sites, investigating deaths in custody and other incidents and conducting special investigations for the Chief Executive.”

Corrections inspectors are guided by the Healthy Prison Standards and the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.

“Having the ability to focus on these new reviews will provide an enhanced level of assurance that good practice, operational issues and emerging risks are identified at an early stage,” says Andy.

Ms Louise MacDonald is a member of the original Inspectorate team and tells us more about what it's like to be an Inspector of Corrections.

Ms Katrina Wolfgramm is a member of the new ongoing reviews Inspectorate team. Katrina tells us about her first weeks as an Inspector in the Ongoing Review team.