To be attributed to Chief Custodial Officer Neil Beales:

Corrections acknowledges the Ombudsman’s independent assessment of Spring Hill Corrections Facility under the United Nations Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT).

We believe this report will assist the Prison Director to improve aspects of the management of the prison.

Corrections does not accept all of the recommendations contained in the report. Those that were accepted have either been completed or are in progress.

Spring Hill Corrections Facility (SHCF) is one of New Zealand’s largest prisons and as such presents numerous challenges for Corrections and our dedicated staff.  Following the riot at the prison in 2013 by a group of violent prisoners with gang associations, the facility has made great strides and is delivering on its core responsibility of keeping the public safe, while also making significant efforts to rehabilitate prisoners through industry, treatment and learning activities to reduce reoffending.

An increase in prisoner numbers has seen a change in focus to the way the prison was originally designed to operate, including housing higher security prisoners who can be more challenging to manage and can present higher risks to staff and each other.

The safety of staff and prisoners is extremely important. There is no evidence to suggest that Spring Hill is an unsafe prison relative to its size and the mix of prisoners held at the facility. Around 3,500 prisoners went through the facility over the last twelve months and in that time there was only one serious prisoner on prisoner assault at Spring Hill.  A similar statistic was recorded the previous year.  Any prisoners who have concerns can report them to Prison staff, the Complaints Response Desk, Inspector of Corrections or other external agencies including the Police, Office of the Ombudsman and Human Rights Commission. The prison’s management team are continually looking at how staff engagement with prisoners can be increased.

The Ombudsman’s unannounced visits are not the sole monitor of the prison system. Corrections undertakes a quarterly check on all prisons with the Prison Performance Table (PPT). The PPT monitors security and internal procedures as well as the delivery of programmes to prisoners. Spring Hill has been rated in the exceptional category for the last three quarters.

The Corrections Inspectorate has also commenced its in-depth prison inspections as part of its expanded capacity. The reports from these inspections will be released on the Inspectorate’s home page as they are finalised.

To support Maori offenders and reduce reoffending, SHCF has Ngati Naho on site as Kaitiaki. Ngati Naho as are also the provider of Tikanga programmes across the prison. These programmes can be delivered in low security and high/remand spaces as desired. In addition, Skills for Life programmes, volunteer activities and treatment have an underpinning tikanga model. Please see more about our developing plan to reduce re-offending among Māori PDF, 1015.62 KB.

It must be noted that SHCF supports the South Auckland/ North Waikato population, which has a significantly larger Pasifika population than anywhere else. This is the reason why SHCF has the only dedicated Pacific Focus Unit (PFU), Vaka Fa’aola in the country. The Saili Matagi violence prevention programme is delivered from the unit.

We recognise the responsibility that the Ombudsman’s office has into examining and monitoring the general conditions and treatment of people in New Zealand prisons. We appreciate the efforts of his staff and will work with them on their follow-up audits.

Corrections response to Ombudsman's SHCF COTA Report Recommendations DOCX, 30.45 KB

In the below video, we explain more about Spring Hill Corrections Facility.