A report into allegations of corruption at Christchurch Men's Prison has found no evidence of wrong doing or corrupt behaviour by staff at the site.
Corrections Chief Executive Barry Matthews says corruption by any staff member is intolerable.
"Any staff member involved in this type of behaviour will face severe disciplinary action, including almost certain dismissal. Prior to this enquiry, four officers had been dismissed from Christchurch Men’s Prison for serious misconduct, including corrupt behaviour," says Mr Matthews.
Mr Matthews says this report is the result of enquiries undertaken after serious allegations were raised by a staff member last year.
"The staff member was raising genuine and honestly held concerns," says Mr Matthews.
"It is important that staff who hold these type of serious concerns feel able to bring them to the attention of management and have reassurance their concerns will be looked into," says Mr Matthews.
"I would like to thank the staff member for bringing the issues to my attention."
Mr Matthews says a total of 25 issues were raised, of which six potentially amounted to corrupt behaviour.
The investigation found no evidence to warrant further investigation or enquiry into five of the six issues, while the sixth issue warranted further investigation.
The remaining 19 issues related to complaints or concerns about the performance of management, and these have been addressed in the report.
"The Department takes every allegation of corrupt activity extremely seriously and I directed the Professional Standards Unit to ascertain whether there was any substance to these allegations.
“During the course of these enquiries a significant number of current and former staff, prisoners and Police Officers were interviewed. Numerous case files and documents were also examined.
"No evidence was found that would justify any further formal action against any individual staff member.
"However, the report did conclude that the prison management of some of these issues could have been better.
"A structural review of Prison Services, completed last year, has already rectified many of the issues identified by providing additional management support. This will better enable Regional and Prison Managers to manage poor staff performance and to address any serious concerns raised by their staff.
"The Department's Internal Audit function will follow-up to ensure that the performance management issues identified in the report are addressed.
“The Regional Manager has also addressed a full staff meeting at Christchurch Prison to provide reassurance to staff that any serious concerns they raise will always be acted upon."
With regard to the remaining issue, Mr Matthews emphasised that there was no evidence to implicate any Prison Services staff member in corrupt activity.
"However there was sufficient concern raised in the enquiry to continue looking into the issue and the Professional Standards Units will continue working with Prison Services staff to gather intelligence. This will be a long term enquiry and it is unlikely to be resolved in the next six months. I will not comment further on this issue until this has been completed."
Mr Matthews says looking into the allegations was important because the public needs to have confidence in the integrity and professionalism of Corrections and staff need to have confidence that the Department will ensure that action is taken on genuine complaints of wrongdoing.
"While it is pleasing to find that the majority of the allegations were not as serious as initially thought or were otherwise unsubstantiated, there is always potential for corruption in prisons because every day our staff manage some of the most manipulative people in society. Prisoners will not think twice in trying to compromise staff to engineer a situation to their own advantage.
"Unfortunately there will always be a few individuals who succumb to the challenges of working in this type of environment, however the public can be reassured that the overwhelming majority of staff do their job professionally and with integrity."
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