Our privacy and transparency commitment

The Department of Corrections obtains personal information to help meet our legal functions to improve public safety and reduce re-offending.

Corrections is committed to ensuring the privacy, security, and confidentiality of all the information we hold.

We recognise that all personal information relates to real people and we expect our staff to take proper care of it.

We are accountable for the collection, use, storage and distribution of information about individuals and organisations.

We ensure:

  • privacy by collecting only the information we need and using it only for legitimate purposes
  • security by keeping data safe from unauthorised access and use
  • confidentiality by only releasing identified personal information where there is a lawful purpose

Collecting information

We collect personal information[1] and non-personal information[2] for a wide range of purposes to deliver our goal of changing lives and keeping communities safe.  This includes information necessary to deliver services and support, and to fulfil our various responsibilities to the people in our care, our staff, and the wider community.

We collect personal information about individual offenders, and also collect personal information about employees and contractors, who are working within Corrections or supporting its achievements.

We collect most of the personal information we use from the individual directly.  However, there are also circumstances where we collect personal information from other government agencies (such as the Courts, NZ Police, or Oranga Tamariki).

In respect of employees and contractors, personal information is collected from them directly, including from provided referees.  We also advise prospective candidates that Corrections sometimes accesses their ‘open source’ social media profiles, particularly when considering frontline roles.  This action is part of the selection process, and it maybe used to provide advice to prospective candidates on what is expected of public servants.

Corrections also has statutory powers to open and read prisoners’ correspondence, to electronically monitor the location of some individuals, and to record and monitor prisoners’ telephone conversations.  Corrections also searches prisoners and their cells, as well as visitors and their vehicles entering prison grounds.  These collection activities are authorised by the Corrections Act to maintain the law and to protect public safety.

On occasions, Corrections will receive information from external agencies or individuals, who raise concerns about the conduct of an individual or public safety.  Where practicable, we will verify this information to ensure it is accurate.

Corrections does employ social media platforms to gain intelligence about individual offenders in a lawful manner, and may monitor groups, such as criminal gangs, to protect our people, information and places.  Corrections does not employ private investigative agents to conduct surveillance on individuals.  However, where a direct threat is received about possible harm to an employee or other individual, Corrections will seek to collect meaningful information that is required to assess the threat and likelihood of harm. In some cases, this may involve contracting an external security consultant on how to address the security risks to the individual.

Limits on use and disclosure of information

We only use and disclose information in connection with our lawful purposes and functions.

We may disclose personal information when required by law, for example, when it is necessary to prevent harm being suffered by someone, or where it is necessary to investigate or prevent a crime.

We disclose some personal information to other government agencies under law, such as approved information matching or sharing agreements. These include:

  • Accident Compensation Corporation
  • Department of Internal Affairs
  • Housing NZ
  • Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment
  • Ministry of Justice
  • Ministry of Social Development
  • NZ Customs
  • NZ Police
  • Oranga Tamariki (Ministry for Children)
  • Statistics NZ

We also share and match data with some of the above agencies for research purposes, to measure outcomes such as reoffending, and for the purposes of identifying important changes in the size, composition, and offending-behaviour trends of the population that we manage.

Corrections also refer some personal information to contracted providers, for example, those who help individuals with their training or reintegration into the community.  These referrals are discussed with the individual beforehand and their consent to the referral is obtained.

We also share personal information with external agencies, while ensuring that those agencies are bound by the same standards or privacy, security, and confidentiality that applied to Corrections.

How we keep personal information secure

We respect individual privacy and keep all personal information confidential unless we are lawfully required or allowed to disclose it.

Corrections maintains the personal information in different information systems, and ensure that access to those systems are role specific, with staff operating with appropriate password controls.  For example health information held about prisoners is only available to staff working in the Health Services teams.

Meeting our obligations

We liaise with the Privacy Commissioner, the Government Chief Digital Officer and the Government Chief Privacy Officer to ensure that we follow ‘better practice’.

We always work to meet the privacy principles of the Privacy Act and the rules of the Health Information Privacy Code, as well as the privacy and security measures we apply to govern our management of information.

We also take care to meet our obligations that are described in the State Services Commission’s Information Gathering Model Standards.  A link to Corrections’ Information Gathering Policy is available here. DOCX, 60.1 KB

Concerns or complaints

Any concerns or questions about privacy aspects can be raised with our Chief Privacy Officer at info@corrections.govt.nz or Private Box 1206, Wellington 6140.

Similarly, any questions or concerns about Corrections’ general information gathering processes can be directed to the Chief Executive at info@corrections.govt.nz or Private Box 1206, Wellington 6140.

Your privacy and our website

Each time you come to our websites, we collect basic technical information such as your domain name, referral data, and browser type.

We use this information for website management and statistical purposes only. We do not use it to identify individual users.

You can voluntarily provide personal information through our enquiries and publications requests page. You can ask for details of this personal information we hold, and request corrections to it, by contacting info@corrections.govt.nz.  Any information you provide to us will not be shared with any other person in a form that will identify you, except where:

  • you consent
  • it is required or permitted by the Privacy Act
  • otherwise permitted by law.

[1] Personal information means information about an identifiable individual, such as someone’s name, contact details, photographic image, fingerprints etc

[2] Non-personal information means any other information such as facilities, equipment, and systems used by Corrections to carry-out its function