External Agencies Involvement
The Prison Director contacted the Visiting Justice (VJ) on 9 March 2016 given his oversight following the required notification process relating to the use of mechanical restraints (TDB) in accordance with the national policy form (POM IR.05.form 2 – Notice of the use of mechanical restraints) as sanctioned under Section 87 of the Corrections Act 2004.
The VJ made arrangements to visit the At Risk Unit and speak with the prisoner and relevant staff in accordance with the VJ assigned powers under Section 19 (4)(b) Corrections Act 2004. The VJ had concerns for the lengthy period in which a prisoner had been restrained on the TDB.
Following the visit, the VJ emailed Mason Clinic Team Leader and prison forensic psychiatrist with a comprehensive report on his findings of the prison staff managing the prisoner and the prisoner himself. He stated that:
‘I believe [the prisoner] should be immediately removed from Auckland Prison and be detained in the Mason Centre (or a similar centre) for reassessment.’
The Mason centre was unable to accommodate the prisoner but offered support to corrections staff.
The VJ continued to raise concerns about the prolonged use of TDB with the prisoner and contacted the Prison Director, Ministry of Health, including the Director Mental Health (MOH). The Director of Mental Health referred the email correspondence to the Department of Corrections, Health Director and National Commissioner.
Following on-going concerns raised by the VJ, the Director of Mental Health, MOH contacted the Department’s Health Director, copy to National Commissioner raising some concerns, which the National Commissioner discussed directly with the Assistant Regional Commissioner, Northern on the same day.
The Chief Inspector of the Office of the Ombudsman COTA team emailed the Prison Director at Auckland Prison on 2 March 2016 requesting information concerning the use of TDB with the prisoner between 26 February 2016 and 2 March 2016, the long term plan for management of the prisoner and relevant health notes including details of the involvement of Mental Health Services.
On 15 March 2016, the Regional Senior Advisor made arrangements with the COTA Inspector for a phone conference to discuss the prisoner’s management which was arranged for later that day with the inclusion of the inspectors and the COTA Chief Inspector from the office of the Ombudsman and the Prison Director. The Ombudsman requested documentation and other electronic data which was provided by the Prison Director.
On 11 April 2016, the COTA Inspectors conducted a site visit which included the At Risk Unit (ARU) and interviews with the prisoner (and another prisoner), discussions with ARU staff and management, Prison Director, Prison Forensic Psychiatrist and Chaplain.
On 10 March 2016, the Acting Principal Corrections Officer (APCO) of the ARU forwarded a copy of the Multi-disciplinary Team (MDT) management plan for the prisoner to the regional Inspector. The regional Inspector responded advising that the plan is comprehensive and covers the use of the TDB; however there was no reference to the frequency of observations while the prisoner is on the TDB. The APCO responded advising that the observations are continuous and that the prisoner is on directed segregation under Section 60 for medical oversight.
On 17 March 2016 the Office of the Ombudsman Prison Investigator contacted the Chief Inspector, Inspectorate Office. He asked whether the Inspectorate Office were monitoring the management of the prisoner and if all the approvals had been sought as per the policy.
The Chief Inspector, Inspectorate Office referred the matter to the regional Inspector for Auckland Prison to follow up. On the same day the regional Inspector advised the Chief Inspector that he had been monitoring the situation and had visited the ARU during the previous week during a routine site visit where he spoke to the staff and viewed the prisoner’s management plan.
The regional Inspector advised that the prisoner was being managed by a MDT who met weekly to review the prisoner’s management plan and that he is also subject to a Section 60 medical oversight segregation order due his risk of self-harm. The MDT progressed to have daily meetings concerning the prisoner.
In the course of the investigation the Inspector identified some inappropriate behaviours exhibited by staff. These consisted of a hand written post-it note attached to the practice guide on securing a prisoner to the tie down bed. This is referenced in the Ombudsman’s report. And an incident which involved a staff member assaulting the prisoner whilst restrained.