C.03 Prisoner general file management

The collection of prisoner information will be managed to ensures it’s integrity and security. Prisoner files may only be disposed of with the authority of Archives New Zealand.

Prisoner general file management criteria

  1. Every prisoner received in to the custody of the Department of Corrections, either on Remand or for Imprisonment or Home Detention, will have an individual general file containing all information received by or generated by the Department of Corrections and / or others relating to that prisoner.
  2. Prisoner information is confidential.

C.03.01 Information not permitted on prisoner’s file

  1. The prisoner’s general file will not contain:
    1. medical information relating to the prisoner. A medical file on each prisoner will be maintained by Health Services.
    2. VNR information. VNR information will be maintained by the Prison VNR Co-ordinator. However, the prisoner's general file cover will be endorsed, if applicable, with “VNR”.
    3. Witness protection information
    4. current at-risk information. This information will be held on a separate file. However, once the prisoner is deemed to be no longer at-risk, the at-risk file will be securely attached to the prisoner’s general file under the red Category C (at-risk information) divider.

C.03.02 Content / structure of a prisoner file

  1. The prisoner’s general file will contain all information relating to the prisoner and the management of their sentence, which includes all the information listed in C.03.Res.01 Content and structure of prisoner’s general file.
  2. All other information / documents that may come into possession of staff relating to a prisoner should be returned to the source, the prisoner or the prisoner's property.
  3. All the material to be filed will be allocated an alphabetical category as listed in C.03.Res.01 Content and structure of prisoner’s general file, and:
    1. the information will be placed behind the corresponding alphabetised divider
    2. the divider for Category C (at-risk information) shall be bright red in colour
    3. no irrelevant annotations, pictures or marks are to be made on prisoner records
    4. naming conventions must be clearly documented
    5. all legal documents must be maintained on the file
    6. physical documents are to be held securely in the file
    7. any indicators or flags relating to the prisoner special status are to be clearly identified on the front cover of the file, e.g. “At Risk”, “VNR”.

C.03.03 Creating or receiving transfer file for new arrival

  1. The prisoner’s general file will be created at the prison where the prisoner is first received. On receiving a new arrival, receiving office staff will complete the following activities:
    1. Check on IOMS for any previous prison history.
    2. If applicable, request the prisoner’s files from the prison where the last sentence was served.
    3. If a file already exists or is transferred in:
      1. check file contents
      2. attach all new information to the file
      3. take medical file to Health Centre
      4. inform prison director of any “flagged” categories e.g. At-risk, Segregation etc
      5. inform VNR Co-ordinator if appropriate.
    4. Ensure that any additional material received that is relevant to the prisoner is attached to the file.
    5. Records file details in the Central File Register. All units (including receiving offices) who manage and store prisoners files must maintain a Central File Register, which must contain the following information:
      1. the current location of each file
      2. the name of the staff member to whom the file has been issued
      3. the reason for issue and
      4. a record of all cases where the file has been accessed, including date, name, reason etc.
    6. Place file in secure storage area (if the receiving office maintains the prisoner’s files), or seal the prisoner’s general file and deliver by hand to the unit PCO.
  2. If the unit manages the prisoner's file, the unit PCO or SCO on receiving the file must enter details into the Unit File Register.
  3. The unit PCO is responsible for ensuring that the prisoner’s files are properly maintained, all information is correctly filed under the appropriate file divider, the file is usable, with information easily accessible, and the files are stored in a secure area with controlled access.

C.03.04 Transferring a prisoner’s file

  1. Where a prisoner is transferred to another unit within the prison, their file is to be sealed and delivered by hand to the receiving unit PCO, and the Unit File Register updated.
  2. On release or transfer out of the unit to another prison, all information relating to that prisoner (e.g. case management, at-risk, medical etc.) is to be collated, the file sealed and dispatched to the receiving office, and the File Register updated.
  3. The receiving officer will collate the prisoner’s general file, ensuring that all relevant information is attached, including the prisoner’s at-risk file if one has been established.
  4. The prisoner’s health history file will be securely sealed in a separate package and attached to the prisoner’s general file.
  5. The receiving officer will ensure that all information is included in the package, seal it, and update the Central File Register.
  6. Ensure that it is handed to the officer in charge of the escort.

C.03.05 Procedures when prisoner’s file in transit

  1. Files in transit, either within or outside the prison, are the responsibility of the person to whom the file is entrusted. Extreme care must be taken to ensure that unauthorised persons do not gain access to any file during transit.
  2. When documents are taken off-site, escort staff must ensure that the documents are held in a covered folder, satchel or box within the possession or control of staff and contained in such a way that the contents are not able to fall free.
  3. The covered folder, satchel or box must not have any visible identifying details.
  4. Access to any file during transit must be limited to authorised persons only and a record kept of any such access.
  5. On arrival the officer in charge of the escort will hand over all files to the receiving officer.

C.03.06 Storage and access to current prisoner’s files

  1. All prisoner records are to be stored in lockable, fireproof cabinets in a secure area ensuring the integrity and security of the information.
  2. Access to all information must be on a “need to know” basis and be strictly controlled.
  3. All access is to be recorded.
  4. No file is to be left where unauthorised persons could potentially access it.

C.03.07 Storage and access to inactive prisoner’s files

  1. Inactive files include all files of prisoners who are not currently on remand or serving a sentence of imprisonment or home detention. Inactive files include files where the prisoner died in custody, or has been released.
  2. The administration manager, or other delegated staff are responsible for maintaining records and the on-site storage of inactive files.
  3. All inactive files will be collated in the same manner as those for a prisoner on transfer, except that the file will be sealed, and the health file will be collated, managed and stored by health services.
  4. Inactive files stored on-site must be in an area that is secure, vermin proof, fireproof, waterproof and to which access can be controlled, and recorded in the Central File Register, and if appropriate in the Unit File Register.
  5. All access to inactive files must be recorded.
  6. Inactive files are usually stored on-site for 2 years, then transferred to off-site storage with the Department's preferred storage provider.

C.03.08 Off-site storage, retrievals and disposal of inactive prisoner’s files

  1. Transfers of files to off-site storage are facilitated by the National Office Recordkeeping Team.
  2. Contact archives@corrections.govt.nz for advice on preparing files for transfer.
  3. The National Office Recordkeeping Team arrange removal of the files and then manage them once they are in off-site storage.
  4. Requests to retrieve files from off-site storage (for reference or reactivation) should be sent to archives@corrections.govt.nz.
  5. The National Office Recordkeeping Team manage the disposal of prisoner records in accordance with the current Retention & Disposal Schedule authorised by Archives New Zealand.