Annual Report 2016/17

Download the full Annual Report 2016/17 PDF, 5394.03 KB


Chief Executive's Overview

As I look back at the year in review there are two areas that stand out for me:

  • The way we responded to the unprecedented growth in prisoner numbers; and
  • Our unwavering focus on keeping the public safe.

The prison muster grew by over 700 over the last year, the equivalent of a medium-sized prison. In the last two years there has been a 16.7% increase in the prison population. We now have more than 10,200 people1 in 18 prisons across New Zealand2, and a further 30,000 people are on community-based sentences.

We have been agile enough to rapidly increase our capacity to accommodate offenders. But we have also increased our overall capability, recruiting new staff and developing our people to be able to manage and better support the offenders in our care.

What I am particularly proud of is how much we have accomplished while managing the increase in prisoner numbers. We have reduced re-offending, especially among those leaving prison after a longer sentence, there have been no escapes from prison since 2014, and serious prisoner on prisoner assaults have gone down.

These would be pleasing results in any given year, but are all the more remarkable considering they have been achieved while responding to the growth in prisoner numbers.

Unfortunately, there was one suicide in prison. Although one death is still one more than any of us would want, it is important to note that this is a significant reduction in unnatural deaths in prison, down from 11 in the previous year.

Of particular note is the work we are doing to improve outcomes for Mäori offenders, our $21 million investment in better mental health and alcohol and drug outcomes, our increased support for women offenders, and our work with youth and those in gangs.

In March 2017 we signed the first ever Accord, or Kawenata, between a government department and the Kiingitanga. This signing established an enduring relationship built on engagement and co-operation. This partnership will serve as a blueprint for us to build similar relationships with other iwi across New Zealand.

In March 2017 we launched two Change Lives Shape Futures strategies – Reducing Re-offending Among Māori3 and Investing in Better Mental Health for Offenders4. We have also finalised programmes of work to support women offenders, gangs, youth, people with alcohol and other drug issues and trans people. There is potential to change the lives of many offenders and their families for the better through an ongoing investment and focus in these areas.

Over the last year, we employed over 1,000 new frontline staff to ensure we can safely and securely manage the offender population. We’re engaged with partners who have expertise in the areas where we need to see better outcomes, we’ve brought more expertise in-house with roles such as counsellors, social workers, mental health workers, community engagement and reintegration advisers, and work brokers.

In July 2016 we established a new Commercial Services team to oversee our larger contracts with third parties. We also strengthened our Office of the Inspectorate and a number of our functions and governance practices following recommendations from the Chief Inspector, Waitangi Tribunal and Chief Ombudsman.

People can come to us damaged, dangerous and volatile. They can be a threat to themselves or others. These people can be incredibly challenging to manage and need a range of support. Every day our people rise to that challenge to ensure the safety of offenders, their families and the wider community. We support people to get back into education, we help them learn a trade, get a job, seek treatment, face up to their offending, complete programmes and do what it takes to address issues such as violence, sexual offending, trauma, drug abuse or any of the contributing factors that lead to criminal offending.

We have more offenders than ever before taking part in trade training, employment and education. We have forged strong relationships with organisations that can support offenders in the areas of health, employment, accommodation, alcohol and drug treatment, rehabilitation and reintegration programmes. We liaise with our partners in the justice and social sectors, and have developed links with iwi, community groups and academic experts whose expertise and influence is essential to make lasting changes in the lives of offenders and their families.

Following our decision to step in at Mt Eden Corrections Facility in July 2015, in March 2017 we achieved a smooth handover from Serco management to Corrections management. The prison has been running effectively without serious incident. We have also increased our monitoring capacity and oversight of the privately managed prison Kohuora, Auckland South Corrections Facility.

Underpinning all we do is a commitment to making our communities safer places to live.

That commitment includes advanced security at prisons and community corrections sites, and for electronic monitoring, increased reintegration services for ex-prisoners and greater community liaison ahead of the placement of child sex offenders. For those who pose the greatest risk, we operate 24-hour high-risk response teams and a new civil detention residence, Matawhāiti.

Thanks to the dedication and determination of our people and partners, we have accomplished an enormous amount. Fewer people are re-offending. Our systems are safer and our sites are more secure. Our people are well-trained and we are flexible enough to respond to changes in offending patterns. Looking ahead, we will continue to develop our workforce and our partnerships with the social sector and the wider community. We will combine our own significant resources with those of the individuals, volunteers and agencies who share our commitment to changing the lives of New Zealanders.

Ray Smith
Chief Executive


  1. As at 30 June 2017.
  2. There are 18 prisons in New Zealand, including Kohuora, Auckland South Corrections Facility, which is managed by SecureFuture as a public private partnership.
  3. Read Corrections’ plan to reduce re-offending among Māori PDF, 1015.62 KB.
  4. Read Corrections’ mental health strategy PDF, 1131.04 KB.