Complaint resolution

We care about the work we do and all the people we work with.

If you have an issue with any aspect of our work, please use the form below to submit a complaint. You can also use the form to ask a question, get advice and provide feedback.

Make a complaint

Before you use the form, check that you have:

  • Copies of any material you wish to provide about your complaint ready in electronic format.  You can post material to the Department of Corrections later if you wish.
  • Written authority if you are complaining on behalf of someone else as their advocate, but you're not their licensed representative.

For further information about Corrections’ complaints system, and alternative ways to make a complaint, please see the sections below.

Who can complain

People who interact with the Department of Corrections can complain about their experiences. These people are “complainants”.

Complainants can be:

  • people in prison or in a public protection order residence
  • people on community-based sentences or orders
  • victims of offences
  • volunteers, journalists, special interest groups, or lobby groups
  • members of the public.

Complaining on behalf of someone else (complaint advocates)

A complainant can approve someone to be their advocate to provide them with assistance, advice, and support through the complaint process.

Detailed guidance for complaint advocates is outlined below. You can also download the following documents:

Who can be a complaint advocate

A range of people can be an advocate including a:

  • friend
  • whānau/family member
  • support person
  • kaumatua, Kaiwhakamana or Fautua Pasefika
  • spiritual adviser.

The advocate must have the complainant’s approval. An advocate also cannot be their legal adviser and does not have any statutory rights or responsibilities of that role.

How can a complainant approve you to be an advocate

A complainant can ask you to be their advocate when they are considering making a complaint or after they have already lodged a complaint.

If a complainant wants your help in making a complaint, you can contact them directly and offer your support. Find out how you can contact a person in prison.

The complainant can complete and sign the Authority for A Complaint  Advocate form and give it to a staff member. This form allows staff to discuss and provide a complainant’s personal information to you.

A complainant might seek your help to resolve a complaint - but not know about the form or process.  If this happens, you can contact staff who will help with the request for authorisation.

Staff will give you a copy of the signed form.

Helping someone with their complaint

Depending on what a person needs, you can help by:

  • giving them information to support their complaint
  • supporting them to represent themselves
  • speaking for them if they ask
  • making sure they get access to information they need about their complaint.

Your responsibilities as a complaint advocate

Because you are acting for a person, you need to:

  • be sensitive to their emotional needs or difficulties
  • have a good working relationship with our staff
  • know when you can no longer be an advocate. This could be if you feel you don’t have the experience or expertise, or you find it too distressing.

Your privacy and personal information responsibilities

If you have access to a person’s personal information, it is important that you understand the rules in the Privacy Act 2020 for collecting, managing and storing another person’s personal information. More information about handling another person’s personal information is available on The Office of the Privacy Commissioner website.

You have a responsibility to represent a complainant in good faith. It is a criminal offence to mislead a business or organisation by impersonating someone, or pretending to act with that person’s authority, to gain access to their personal information, or to have it altered or destroyed.

How we keep the complainant up to date about their complaint

Staff will give the complainant a copy of all correspondence received from you, and all correspondence given to you.

How we support you to connect with a complainant in prison

When a complainant is in prison, you might need to discuss the complaint with them. This could be via mail, email, phone, AVL or a prison visit.

An ‘Authority for a Complaint Advocate’ is not an authority to mail, email, phone, AVL or visit a person in prison. These are different processes that you will need to complete separately. Staff can support you to navigate these processes.

If you are not granted one form of contact (e.g., a prison visit), you will need to perform your advocacy function via another form of contact where you do have permission (e.g., phone).

Find out how you can contact a person in prison.

We expect you to engage with both staff and the complainant as soon as possible to support early resolution.

Getting expert advice

If a person needs more information or expert help with something specific about their complaint, they can contact independent support such as the Citizens Advice Bureau, Community Law Centres or their own legal representative. Some law centres have more experience or may agree to provide free legal advice.  If a person needs support about a health or disability related complaint, they can contact the Nationwide Health and Disability Advocacy Service.

If the complainant cancels or changes your approval

If a complainant asks us to cancel or change your approval, we will immediately stop or alter how we provide any further correspondence to you.

Organisations that provide support

Community law centres

You can get free independent advice from community law centres. If you’re eligible, they may also be able to:

  • offer ongoing legal assistance
  • help you with mediation
  • represent you at tribunals or in court.

Citizens Advice Bureau

Citizens Advice Bureau offer online information about areas of law where people often have problems such as complaints, consumer issues, housing, jobs, families, and money.

Other ways to make complaints

Complaints about Community Corrections

Complaints about Community Corrections can be made in confidence to a Community Corrections staff member.

Where possible, we try to resolve complaints at the lowest appropriate level. Generally, this means probation officers are the first to receive a complaint and will attempt to resolve it informally. They may need to involve their manager or other staff.

If a complaint cannot be resolved at this level, a formal complaint can be made. A formal complaint will be passed to a community district manager. They will investigate a complaint and may involve other staff or more senior management if necessary.

A formal complaint can be made by:

  • completing and signing a Community Corrections complaints form DOC, 534.5 KB
  • sending a signed letter, or an email, to the local Community Corrections site that outlines the complaint in detail
  • talking to a community corrections staff member, who will record the complaint, ask the person to sign it and then send the complaint to the community corrections district manager.

Each Community Corrections site’s contact details are available on our locations page. You can filter the list by "Community Corrections."

Once the Community Corrections district manager receives a complaint, they will:

  • write to say that the complaint has been received
  • register the complaint in a database
  • start a fact-finding process to see if further investigation or action is needed.

The manager will keep the person who made the complaint updated as it’s dealt with and may ask for more information during the investigation.

Complaints about prisons

Complaints about prisons can be made in confidence to unit staff or directly to prison management.

Where possible, we try to resolve complaints at the lowest appropriate level. Generally, this means corrections officers are the first to receive a complaint and will attempt to resolve it informally.

If a resolution cannot be achieved at this level, a person in prison can submit a formal complaint through the PC.01 process. You can find out more about the PC.01 process.

Anyone else can make a complaint about prisons by contacting the prison’s management. You can find contact details for each prison on our location page.

Complaints about the victim notification service

Complaints about the Victim Notification Service can be made in confidence to the victim information manager. Contact details are:

Postal address:

Victim Information Manager
Department of Corrections
Private Box 1206
Wellington 6140

Email: victim.complaints@corrections.govt.nz

The Victim Information Manager will acknowledge the complaint and then refer the complaint to the service/s concerned for investigation.

This complaints process is for people who are registered on the Victims Notification Register (VNR). If you are not registered on the VNR but would like to make a complaint, please email the Office of the Inspectorate at inspectorate@corrections.govt.nz.

Complaints about official and personal information

Complaints about official and personal information can be made in confidence to the Ministerial Services team. If you have any concerns about how we have handled your request for official or personal information, please contact us in the first instance.

Your concerns may relate to us:

  • declining your request for information
  • breaching a statutory timeframe
  • extending a timeframe
  • charging you for information
  • putting conditions on the release of information.

You can contact us via email to info@corrections.govt.nz or by post to:

Ministerial Services
Department of Corrections
PO Box 1206
Wellington 6140

Read more about our official information policy and procedures, and our privacy policy.

Complaints about unwanted mail

We take all complaints and enquiries about unwanted prison mail very seriously.

You can call 0800 345 006 or email mailcomplaints@corrections.govt.nz if you have an enquiry or complaint about unwanted prison mail. You can also complete the online complaint form on this page, that will be delivered to the same email. Completing the online form will ensure you record all information we need to process your enquiry quickly.

The email and 0800 line are staffed weekdays only. Voice messages can be left after hours and staff will respond.

How to elevate complaints

Complaints can also be taken directly to an Inspector of Corrections from the Office of the Inspectorate, whose job it is to deal with complaints about Corrections.

Complaints are only made directly to Inspectors, without first going through a Corrections staff member, if there are compelling reasons why it’s not reasonable, practical or safe to tell a frontline staff member first.

If a complaint cannot be resolved through the Office of the Inspectorate, you can also elevate the matter to the following external monitoring entities: