Corrections acknowledges the release of the follow up report into Manawatu Prison undertaken by the Corrections Chief Inspector and is pleased to note that there has been good progress made on site improvements since the initial inspection in 2017.

The Inspector’s follow up report from May 2019 highlights that staff and management have made a concerted effort to improve areas they have direct control and influence over, including staff and prisoner safety and support for Maori prisoners in helping them strengthen their cultural identity.

“Manawatu Prison was the first site to receive an inspection by the Inspectorate and this follow up is also the first to have been done. The team at Manawatu has therefore played an important role in shaping and leading the approach as to how we manage the Inspector’s findings,” said Neil Beales, Chief Custodial Officer.

While the report found that the prison has made reasonable progress towards enabling prisoner attendance at court proceedings via AVL, it did note that progress on the construction of AVL suites and the refurbishment of B Block was taking longer than anticipated.

“These two projects are part of a $15 million refurbishment programme at Manawatu Prison and while some of this work has taken longer than expected to complete, we plan to open the new AVL suites in March,” said Mr Beales.

“We also acknowledge that, as an older facility, B Block doesn’t reflect modern design thinking but since this inspection wall decals and new lights have been installed, while a full upgrade of the showers and toilets in B Block will soon be completed.”

“These larger scale improvements are outside the control of the team on the ground at Manawatu and the staff have done a wonderful job managing this situation in the interim,” said Mr Beales.

Other initiatives being undertaken at the prison that are not covered in this report include:

  • A wing in B Block has been allocated to accommodate young men, where they participate in the Kick for the Seagulls programme, under the direction of Sir Graham Lowe.
  • The extension of the Te Ara Maori unit philosophy to increase access for prisoners. This unit is responsible for contributing to One Billion Trees Programme, and focuses on whanau inclusion, rehabilitation and reintegration.

The report found that security classifications and segregation of prisoners can be a barrier to accessing rehabilitation programmes.

“This is a challenge for all our prisons. However at Manawatu, the team appropriately mix prisoners of different classifications in programmes such as the Medium Intensity Rehabilitation Programme (MIRP).”

“It’s not practicable to provide all interventions at all sites and that is why our teams work across the prison network to enable people to access necessary rehabilitation programmes. The improved access to the Te Tirohanga programme detailed in the report is a good example of this and a similar approach is taken to transferring segregated men to other sites to attend programmes that will best benefit them,” said Mr Beales.

The Prison has also moved to improve staff access to Mental Health 101 training. This will complement the full time mental health clinician that has been appointed at all sites.

“Inspections like this are invaluable,” said Mr Beales.

“Daily life in a prison can be demanding and due to the busy and complex nature of the job, staff can miss the opportunity to reflect on progress. A report such as this helps refocus our work and maintain standards across the system.”

“The investment in the prison and the work being undertaken by staff and management shows Corrections commitment to ensuring the wellbeing of staff and prisoners and helping make communities safer,” said Mr Beales.

Read the media release from the Office of the Inspectorate along with the full inspection report on their website.