The Corrections’ independent Inspectorate has released its report on Northland Region Corrections Facility (NRCF), and has found a prison operating well and working hard to manage the challenges it is facing.
Of the 17 actions identified by the Inspectorate as requiring attention during their visit in March 2018, the prison has confirmed that all have been completed while they have also implemented a programme of secondary assurance checks to provide further monitoring and oversight and ensure the improvements are effective and sustained.
There is an emphasis in the report on the conditions in parts of the prison and the privacy of prisoners while going about their ablutions. Corrections’ Chief Custodial Officer Neil Beales says these matters are being managed and addressed.
“Prison management have taken a proactive approach to cleaning the graffiti. This is an ongoing activity and a prison cleaning team is focussed on maintaining standards in the prison,” said Mr Beales.
“Staff also move quickly to remediate any damage in the units and incident reports are completed. Any prisoners found to be responsible for causing damage are held accountable through the misconduct process.”
“Cameras have been de-activated in the shower yards and Velcro curtains have been installed to provide privacy for prisoners showering.”
Since the report, NRCF has also lead the way around the provision of cultural activities and rehabilitation needs for prisoners, including a recent announcement from the Minister of Corrections regarding Māori pathways initiative being implemented at NRCF and Hawkes Bay Regional Prison.
“This is co-designed and implemented by Māori and the approach will enable people in prison to experience a kaupapa Māori-centred approach right from remand through to reintegration,” said Mr Beales.
“Key objectives of the initiative include developing a pathway to support the rehabilitation of people at NRCF and Hawkes Bay Regional Prison and ensuring partnership with iwi, hapu and relevant sector partners, as well as Te Puni Kōkiri and the Ministry of Social Development to design this pathway.”
“It will include interventions for high security prisoners and their whanau to reduce their risk of re-offending, as well as enabling a shift towards more effective interventions and services which are co-designed and implemented by Māori”.
“We are committed to ensuring that we operate a prison network that protects the safety of the prisoners we manage, our staff, contractors and visitors, and New Zealand communities. We do this by providing offenders with access to health and wellness services and every opportunity for change through participation in rehabilitation, education and employment. Our goal is to give them the best chance of living a life free from crime, and reducing the number of victims impacted by offending,” said Mr Beales.
Mr Beales says that operating such dynamic institutions such as prisons is challenging but this report indicates that staff at Northland are doing a good job.
“We agree that there is always more work to do. However, balancing our obligations, challenges and competing priorities against the time and resources available means that we must make realistic choices about where to focus our efforts.”