M.05.03 Observing and managing at-risk prisoners

The purpose of observing and managing at-risk prisoners is to ensure that they are managed safely through accurate recording of information, frequent observation, following a management plan, and careful consideration of transfer.

M.05.03.01 Managing a prisoner at risk to themselves

  1. Prisoners who have been assessed at risk must:
    1. be strip searched when they are initially received into the at-risk unit and any other time they return to the at-risk unit from areas used by other (non-segregated) prisoners.
    2. have the same opportunities for involvement in prison activities as other prisoners, consistent with maintaining their safety and the safety of others
    3. be provided suitable resources for their management, including:
      1. appropriate accommodation, i.e. special needs units, dedicated care units, at-risk units etc.
      2. bedding and clothing designed to assist with suicide prevention that is checked daily for signs of damage and deterioration and replaced if it has been tampered with. (See Related Links / Resources / At risk clothing and bedding quality control guidelines.)
  2. If the at-risk prisoner is also subject to section 60 of the Corrections Act 2004, segregation order for purpose of medical oversight, they are to be managed in accordance with the applicable requirements of that order.
  3. If a prisoner requires mechanical restraints to prevent further self harm, the officer in charge of the incident must:
    1. seek the approval of the prison director before applying any restraint (other than for escorting the prisoner)
    2. complete form IR.02.Form.01 Approval for / report on the use of mechanical restraints if the circumstances require an immediate reaction and it is impractical to gain the approval of the prison director but must, as soon as possible inform the prison director
    3. ensure that a prison nurse examines the prisoner within 3 hours if the type of restraint used is a tie-down bed or head protector.
  4. Any prisoner who has been placed in a mechanical restraint to prevent further self harm must be referred to the At Risk Multi Disciplinary team by the prison director (see M.05.03.Res.01 Managing at-risk prisoners requiring mechanical restraints for information on the At Risk Multi Disciplinary team actions and responsibilities).
  5. All actions are designed to ensure that prisoners are only restrained for the least time necessary to safeguard their wellbeing.
  6. Staff managing at-risk prisoners who have been authorised to be placed in mechanical restraints must follow the guidelines detailed in the Custodial Practice Manual (particularly the section on tie-down beds under Mechanical Restraints)

M.05.03.02 Prisoner at-risk file

  1. Prisoners who have been assessed at risk must have a separate “at-risk” file established and maintained in the unit the prisoner is being accommodated. At a minimum, an at-risk file should contain:
    1. the current risk assessment form
    2. the prisoner's at-risk management plan
    3. a copy of all incident reports during the at-risk period
    4. daily observation reports completed during the at-risk period
    5. detailed reports from all support personnel, including medical / chaplains / psychological / psychiatric notes completed during the at-risk period and the current sentence
    6. any relevant secondary reports that would help the management of the prisoner, such as a pre-sentence report.
  2. The at-risk file should be clearly identifiable to all staff and, when the prisoner is no longer deemed to be at-risk, the at-risk file is to be placed in section C of the prisoner's penal file.
  3. The current penal file of an at-risk prisoner, or former at-risk prisoner, is identified with an “At-Risk” stamp on the front.

M.05.03.03 Observing an at-risk prisoner

  1. Prisoners identified as at-risk who do not have a management plan must be observed:
    1. by way of physical sightings (not by camera, unless being escorted in a single cell vehicle with CCTV fitted in the cells – refer M.04.01.Res.04 Instructions for using single cell escort vehicle)
    2. at intervals no longer than15 minutes until a plan is developed.
  2. Prisoners with a management plan must be observed:
    1. by way of physical sightings (not by camera, unless being escorted in a single cell vehicle with CCTV fitted in the cells – refer M.04.01.Res.04 Instructions for using single cell escort vehicle)
    2. at intervals no longer than those specified in the management plan.
  3. Staff must record all observations (behavioural patterns) using the M.01.02.Form.02 Observations (IOMS) or M.05.03.Form.01 Observations, and:
    1. use a new M.01.02.Form.02 Observations (IOMS) or M.05.03.Form.01 Observations each day (i.e. beginning of standard work hours)
    2. refer recorded behavioural patterns to appropriate support personnel.
  4. Observation sheets for the 24 hour period of the previous day are to be reviewed and signed by a PCO within each 24 hour period and then filed in the prisoner’s at-risk file.

M.05.03.04 At-risk management plan

  1. Prisoners who have been assessed as being at risk must have an at-risk management plan (M.05.03 Form.02 At risk management plan). The management plans must:
    1. reflect their at-risk assessment
    2. be developed in consultation with appropriate support personnel, including input from health services medical staff, cultural advisers and whânau.
  2. The prisoner at-risk management plans must include the:
    1. placement of the prisoner to ensure their safety
    2. type of risk and reason for at-risk status
    3. frequency of any observations
    4. prisoner’s access to any support systems, programmes, or special requirements, including spiritual, cultural, social, religious, mental health, special or personal needs
    5. times when the prisoner’s at-risk status is to be reviewed
    6. names and roles of key people involved in determining and implementing the prisoner’s at-risk management plan.
  3. The at-risk management plans will address the removal of a prisoner from at-risk status and any ongoing assessment; treatment or monitoring that may be deemed necessary. This may include on-going follow up by the Regional Forensic Mental Health Team, on-going health treatment; the continuation of observations, and specific management interventions that will assist the prisoner to remain in mainstream residential units.
  4. The RISK OF SELF HARM alert on IOMS is deactivated before the prisoner is moved out of the at-risk unit.
    Note: The review date of the alert should be the sentence release date for sentenced prisoners or remand end date for a remand / accused prisoner. If the prisoner returns to custody, the RISK OF SUICIDE historic alert must be re-activated.

M.05.03.05 At-risk prisoner transfers

  1. Careful consideration must be given to the appropriateness of placing an at-risk prisoner on escort to another prison. Where such an escort is necessary and adjudged safe, the at-risk file and all relevant advice and information must be provided to escorting staff.
  2. An at-risk file is transferred with the prisoner when the prisoner transfers between units, or between prisons. All at-risk files relating to the period of imprisonment must arrive at the new location with the prisoner.