Corrections acknowledges the release of the reports into Whanganui and Arohata Prisons, completed by Corrections’ independent Inspectorate. This follows their inspection of the prisons in September 2018.

The Inspectorate found that the prisons were generally functioning well and that the prisoners’ risks and needs were well assessed on their arrival.

Corrections Chief Custodial Officer Neil Beales said one of the most pleasing aspects of the reports concerned the environments created at both sites.

“It was especially good to note that the Inspectorate found that prisoners at both Whanganui and Arohata generally felt safe from violence and intimidation,” said Mr Beales.

“The high security units at Whanganui house some of the most challenging people at the prison but the Chief Inspector indicated that prisoners found staff approachable and had received comprehensive inductions into the unit.”

Prisoners had a reasonable amount of time out of their cell and there were efforts made to increase the industry, treatment and learning opportunities for remand and high security prisoners. The low-medium security units at Whanganui also provided good engagement between prisoners and staff .

“Prisoners in these units are employed across a range of industries including the kitchen, laundry, nursery, grounds maintenance, painting, timber yard, joinery workshop and the concrete block plant,” said Mr Beales.

“They also have access to programmes that address the causes of their offending including a dedicated Te Tirohanga unit which provides men with a range of rehabilitation programmes in a kaupapa Māori therapeutic environment. Men with other needs also had access to a range of motivational, alcohol and drug and medium intensity rehabilitation programmes.”

At Arohata the Inspectorate found that the women had access to a wide range of constructive activities and the prison also housed the country’s only dedicated Drug Treatment Programme at a female prison.

“This facility supports the women to address their alcohol and drug needs along with how the use of these substances contributed to their offending,” said Mr Beales.

While health care services at both prisons were good, the Inspector found nursing staff faced challenges at Whanganui when others were on leave and there was a lack of space for consultations.

“A dedicated resource has since been assigned to coordinate Health Unit movements and health staff have access to more rooms across the site for routine consultations, reducing the number of escorts to the Health Unit,” said Mr Beales.

The Inspectorate’s report also included the New Plymouth Remand Centre, located in the New Plymouth Police Station. The Remand Centre accommodates prisoners on remand and is managed by Whanganui Prison.

While there are no facilities at the Remand Centre to support visits with family and friends, Mr Beales said that every effort was made by staff to continue that important connection.

“Prisoners can be escorted to Whanganui Prison if they request a visit. We can also utilise the audio-visual link facilities at Whanganui Prison if friends or family live outside the area. Prisoners also have access to phones to maintain contact from NPRC,” said Mr Beales.

Neil Beales said findings that Arohata was short staffed and areas of the prison were not fit for purpose had been addressed.

“There has been substantial construction work at both Arohata sites, at Tawa and Rimutaka and the staff have worked hard to improve our operations.”

Read the media releases from Office of the Inspectorate along with the full inspection reports on their website.