Corrections acknowledges the release of the reports into the three Canterbury based prisons, Christchurch Men’s and Women’s, and Rolleston, completed by Corrections’ independent Inspectorate.
The reports into the prisons resulted from inspections undertaken between May and July 2018 and found they were generally operating well, prisoners and staff were well engaged and every effort was made to ensure prisoner needs were met at the three facilities.
The reports were completed during a period when the prison population was significantly higher than it is today, resulting in pressure on staff to maintain safety and security while also prioritising prisoners’ rehabilitation and reintegration needs.
Corrections Chief Custodial Officer Neil Beales says it’s pleasing to note that despite the increased number of prisoners, staff worked diligently to ensure these needs were met.
“The prison population peaked at just over 10,800 in March 2018 but has since reduced to around 10,000. This is around 1,500 prisoners below the 2017 Justice Sector Forecast.”
Some of the challenges faced at Christchurch Women’s Prison included the direct result of the need to rapidly increase prison capacity in response to a 40 percent rise in the women’s prisoner population in two years prior to the inspection. As a result of the report, 15 actions were identified to remedy issues found, with six now completed, including information on the Women’s Strategy being included for all new staff at induction, ensuring household items in the Self Care Unit are functional and the replacement of mattresses and bedding.
Of the 21 areas identified in the Christchurch Men’s Prison inspection, one was that the Health Unit within the prison was no longer fit for purpose, making working conditions difficult for staff.
“This is being addressed by the prison and there are plans to establish prefabricated cabins which will better improve the layout and workspace for health staff. There are also some minor changes being made to the existing space which will make the environment better for staff and prisoners,” said Mr Beales.
Nine actions identified by the Inspectorate have been completed at Christchurch Men’s Prison, including the addition of curtains over windows of cells where strip searches are carried out, the appointment of two fulltime property officers to ensure efficient processing of prisoner property and the purchase of additional underwear stock.
Thirteen actions were identified as areas requiring attention at Rolleston Prison including regular maintenance of the facilities, prisoner privacy and ensuring better deterrents for contraband being brought into the prison.
Nine of the thirteen actions raised by the Inspectorate have been completed, including the installation of cameras in dining rooms and providing prisoners with access to information about visits from family members using AVL technology.
“A new perimeter fence is close to completion and a single point of entry to the prison, including a main reception and vehicle entrance have been completed, which will go a long way to better managing this issue of contraband, which is a challenge for all prison sites,” said Mr Beales.
“These inspections and visits are often helpful in highlighting areas that may need attention and these are addressed as quickly as possible,” said Mr Beales.