To be attributed to Chief Custodial Officer Neil Beales:

Corrections welcomes the decision by the Ombudsman to publicly release inspection reports, beginning with the assessment of Hawkes Bay Regional Prison.

The release of this report marks a higher level of transparency and will give the public greater awareness of the work that we do, and the unique challenges that we face.

We recognise the responsibility the Office of the Ombudsman has into examining and monitoring the general conditions and treatment of people in New Zealand prisons and we appreciate the efforts of his staff and welcome their follow-up audits.

It is pleasing to see that the report into Hawkes Bay Regional Prison acknowledges the many positive aspects of the Department’s work as well as highlighting areas where improvements can be made.

Prisoners have the right to be treated with humanity, dignity and respect while in prison, therefore there are a number of human rights standards already in place to ensure safe detention. Corrections takes its duty of care towards prisoners seriously and is committed to managing all prisoners in a safe, secure, humane and effective manner.

A number of recommendations have been made by the Ombudsman that will assist the Prison Director, George Massingham, to improve the performance of the prison, and I am pleased to see many are in progress or have been completed.

The prison is a challenging one to operate for staff due to the very heavy concentration of gang members and affiliates who are incarcerated there. Gang participation accounts for a significant proportion of violence both in prison and the community.

The Department’s assessment of the performance of the prison is published in the Prison Performance Table where it is placed in the “Needs Improvement” category for custodial performance, and the “Exceeding” category for rehabilitation through the Industry, Treatment and Learning programme. (This information is available on the Corrections website).

The Corrections Inspectorate has commenced its in-depth prison inspections as part of its expanded capacity. Manawatu Prison was the first prison to have this inspection, and Auckland Prison the second. Hawkes Bay Regional Prison and Waikeria Prison are next. The reports from these inspections will be released on the Inspectorate’s home page as they are finalised.

Collectively, the release of the Inspectorate reports and those inspections carried out by the Ombudsman, will increase the transparency of the country’s prison system.

The Ombudsman’s report into Hawkes Bay Regional Prison can be found here:

View Corrections response to Ombudsman’s HB COTA Report Recommendations DOCX, 67.67 KB