Corrections acknowledges the release of the Chief Ombudsman’s report on Invercargill Prison. The report relates to a follow up inspection carried out in April 2019 in accordance with the United Nations Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT).
The initial inspection in 2016 identified 18 recommendations, of which 12 had been achieved or partially achieved. Six repeat recommendations have been made following this report.
Included in the recommendations that were not achieved were prisoner meal times and allowing prisoners access to dining facilities.
“We are moving to standardise the serving of meals nationally through a review of shift patterns for staff in all our prisons. When complete this will hopefully go a long way to satisfying the concerns of the Ombudsman,” said Chief Custodial Officer Neil Beales.
Invercargill Prison was built between 1908-10 and recently underwent a $19m upgrade of its facilities. This included a three stage refurbishment, providing significant health and security improvements to the prison. It also improved the functionality of the prison, including enhancements to the kitchen and laundry facilities and the completion of a new health and Intervention and Support Unit (ISU) to provide a fit for purpose facility.
“When the kitchen facilities were being upgraded, prisoners ate in their respective units and since completion prisoners have chosen to stay in their units during meal times,” said Mr Beales.
Corrections acknowledges the Ombudsman’s concerns over prisoners in the Intervention and Support Units and is working to address those issues.
“The prisoners in these units can be highly troubled and the preservation of life is Corrections' number one priority. However, we will address those concerns while ensuring the safety and security of prisoners and staff is maintained,” said Mr Beales.
The Ombudsman made several positive observations about the cleanliness and maintenance of the facility; increased arts and cultural activities for remand prisoners supported by staff; and additional health staff rostered onto the prison at weekends.
“Every day our staff go to work to ensure accepted international standards of safety, human dignity, rehabilitation and reintegration needs within prisons are met,” said Mr Beales.
“We are prepared to listen and monitor our work and if standards are not being maintained we move quickly to improve our work, wherever possible. It is pleasing to see that the Ombudsman has noted the good work being done by staff.”
Read the full report on the follow up inspection of Invercargill Prison on the Ombudsman's website.