Statement from Ben Clark, Southern Regional Commissioner

In June last year, failure to follow correct procedures resulted in a prisoner at Christchurch Men’s Prison remaining in a secure exercise yard for an extended period of time, prior to being inducted into a new unit.

We extended our sincere apologies to the prisoner in question at the time. When staff realised he was still locked in the yard, he was immediately provided with medical attention and hot meals.

Corrections undertook an initial fact finding review of this incident and all staff fully cooperated with that review. A review of prisoner reception and lockup procedures was completed immediately with a number of changes made to minimise the chances of a similar incident occurring in the future.

We have now completed a wider operational review into the incident to identify whether any other lessons can be learnt that will further strengthen our processes.

The review made a number of recommendations including;

  • A review of:
    • the prisoner transition methods on site;
    • the placement of prisoners within the high security accommodation units
    • the staff induction process for staff who are reassigned or redeployed to a different unit;
    • the unit desk files;
    • how prisoner cell and location checks are being completed;
    • the method by which staff provide meals to the prisoner population;
  • Provide assurances that correct policies and processes are being followed and;
  • Consideration of whether the capital works already planned for the Matai Yards can be prioritised

All of these recommendations have been actioned including a review of the process for prisoner inductions to new units. New arrivals to a unit are now to be taken directly to the unit for induction. Progress of all of these recommendations will be monitored to ensure an incident of this nature does not happen again.

It is disappointing to see the standard policies and procedures were not followed in this instance and this is simply not good enough. Following this incident an employment investigation was undertaken and appropriate action was taken. The staff have expressed that they are disappointed in themselves. They set themselves high standards and know that on this occasion, they let themselves down. We are committed to an environment of continuous improvement. Where mistakes are made we put our hand up to them and make every effort to learn from them to ensure they are not repeated in the future.

Read the full Summary of the Operational Review into a Breach of Security at a Christchurch Men’s Prison Unit.

Note: We cannot go into detail of employment matters under our obligations of the Privacy Act.
The security of our facilities is paramount and at no time was there any risk to public safety