New Zealand Law Society - Ombudsman releases further OPCAT prison inspection reports

Ombudsman releases further OPCAT prison inspection reports

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The Office of the Ombudsman has released a prison inspection report for Christchurch Men's Prison and follow-up inspection reports for Arohata, Manawatu and Rolleston Prisons.

The inspections were undertaken by the Ombudsman's OPCAT (Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture) team.

The report on an unannounced inspection of Christchurch Men's Prison shows clear themes emerging, Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier says. It is the third full prison inspection report published.

"High levels of violence, unacceptable conditions in At-Risk Units, and lack of a constructive regime for remand prisoners, are issues we're identifying at each site."

A nine-person inspection team visited Christchurch Men’s Prison from 3 to 12 April 2017, examining facilities and interviewing staff and prisoners. Key recommendations in the report concern the regime for remand prisoners, the conditions and treatment in the At-Risk Units, and improving prisoner safety.

Follow-up inspection reports for Arohata, Manawatu and Rolleston Prisons have also been released.

The reports show that of 17 recommendations for improvement at Arohata Prison, four had been fully and three partially achieved. Twenty two recommendations were made at Manawatu Prison; half of these had been achieved, with another four partially achieved. At Rolleston Prison, five of the 11 recommendations had been fully achieved.

"The issues identified at these Prisons are similar to those we find across the Prison estate. Prisoner safety and dignity, the regime for remand prisoners, and the conditions and treatment of at-risk prisoners are all areas we recommend for improvement," Judge Boshier says.

"While I’m pleased that more than half of the recommendations have been fully or partly achieved, I’d like to see better progress in achieving the improvements we recommend."

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