Overview of Achievements in 2005/2006

The Department has made considerable gains in recent years towards its outcome of 'protecting the public'. While the Department continued to consolidate these gains during 2005/06, there was a shift in emphasis towards enhancing and expanding the rehabilitative and reintegrative initiatives which contribute to its second outcome of 'reducing re-offending'.


In 2005/06, the Department moved to enhance the progress already made across both of its outcomes. The Department identified and agreed with Government a number of priority areas for development during 2005/06. In terms of 'protecting the public', it was agreed that the Department would:

  • Improve the management of offenders serving short prison sentences, including when they are under supervision in the community.
  • Trial new technologies for electronic monitoring.
    • Enhance prison security through monitoring prisoners' telephone calls and improved crime prevention information capability.
    • Initiatives aimed at 'reducing reoffending' included:
  • Improve the focus on rehabilitation of offenders in prison and in the community.
  • Increase focus on and enhance reintegration of prisoners back into the community.
  • Ensure offenders in prison and on home detention receive appropriate industry training and assistance with finding sustainable employment.

Enhance offender management processes and systems to maximise integration across the Department and with other agencies.

Specific initiatives under these priority areas were also agreed. Progress against these initiatives is reported in the next section on Key Initiatives Delivered in 2005/06. As the year progressed, changes were made to these priorities as the Government's refined its priorities for the next decade, including those relating to the justice sector.

The challenge for the 2005/06 year was one of consolidating and advancing the gains made towards 'protecting the public' – against a backdrop of continuing pressures on existing and new facilities and infrastructure from the increasing numbers of prisoners - while at the same time trialling and introducing new technology and other measures to improve prison security and the enforcement of sentences.

Hand in hand with this, the increased focus on 'reducing re-offending' saw the review of existing rehabilitation and reintegration programmes, the development and piloting of new programmes and new services such as supported accommodation for prisoners following their release, and the introduction of new policies and strategies such as the Prisoner Employment Strategy 2006–2009. A key Government initiative, the strategy looks to increase the range, quality and relevance of employment-related opportunities and qualifications for significantly more prisoners in the medium to longer term future.


Prisoner numbers

Over the last decade, the significant growth in throughput and demand for the Department's services has had major implications for its core infrastructure, with prisons ageing and/or inadequate in terms of their capacity to handle the increasing number of offenders receiving a custodial sentence. Prosecution rates have increased and the most serious offenders are now receiving longer sentences. Legislative changes in the last five years have also had flow-on effects in terms of the increasing number of prisoners, the full impact of which has still to be felt.

Facilities and Infrastructure

To meet the forecast and actual increase in prisoner numbers, the Department embarked on one of New Zealand's largest construction, commissioning and recruiting projects - the Regional Prisons Development Programme. The programme will see four new regional prisons built and add 1,621 new beds to the prison system by 2007.

The first of the four new corrections facilities, the 350-bed Northland Region Corrections Facility at Ngawha, near Kaikohe, was successfully opened on time in March 2005 and was operating at normal capacity by October 2005.

The second of these facilities, the Auckland Region Women's Corrections Facility in Manukau, was completed in May 2006 and officially opened in June 2006. The first prisoners were received on 2 August 2006 and the prison will be operating at normal capacity by December 2006. This was a significant achievement as the facility size was increased from 150 to 286 beds part-way through the construction programme to meet continued growth in female prisoner numbers.

Construction of the remaining two new regional corrections facilities - the 650-bed Spring Hill Corrections Facility between Meremere and Te Kauwhata and the 335-bed Otago Region Corrections Facility at Milburn, south of Dunedin - progressed to plan during the year, with construction on target to be complete in 2007.

The significance of the achievements of the Regional Prisons Development Project cannot be under-estimated. A project of such scale delivering modern well-built facilities to a tight timeline is an enormous credit to all involved.

While new prisons have been important, the expansion of cell capacity at existing sites has also been critical to meeting increasing prisoner numbers. During 2005/06, a total of 413 new beds were commissioned at existing sites. Overall, in the three years to mid-2007, a total of almost 2,400 new beds will have been added to the prison system.

Despite this increase in capacity, average occupancy of available beds during the 2005/06 year was 97.7 percent, with an average prison population of 7,605 prisoners as at 30 June 2006. This rate was slightly down from 99.2 percent in 2004/05, but still above the 2003/04 rate of 96 percent. The rate was also above the optimum rate of prison utilisation of between 85 and 95 percent, which allows facilities to accommodate the transfer of prisoners, provide for special purpose accommodation (for example, protection units), provide separate facilities for different security levels, and facilitates the management of short-term fluctuations in prisoner numbers. During 2005/06, the occupancy rate peaked at 102.6 percent in December 2005, including the use of the Department's disaster recovery capacity and double bunking in some accommodation, requiring the temporary use of police and court cells to meet demand. This occupancy rate is expected to drop with the opening of the two remaining new corrections facilities during 2007.

During the year, work continued on the maintenance and improvement of existing facilities and other assets, ensuring facilities and infrastructure support the effective management of offenders and facilitate rehabilitation.

Ohura Prison was closed on 30 November 2005 as planned with prisoners, most staff and other resources transferred to Tongariro/ Rangipo Prison. New prison huts providing 120 new beds were commissioned at Tongariro/Rangipo Prison and the Ohura Prison huts successfully relocated to Waikeria Prison where they could be re-used with minimum rebuild.

To assist with the rehabilitation of prisoners and their reintegration back into the community, 80 new self-care beds have been commissioned in the last two years. Plans for the Department's first Pacific Focus Unit were also integrated into the commissioning of the new Spring Hill Corrections Facility, with construction of special facilities to support the unit progressing in conjunction with the overall building programme.

The 2005/06 year also saw the successful transfer of the Auckland Central Remand Prison (ACRP) from private management to the Department on 12 July 2005, which was achieved with minimal disruption to prisoners and unit routines.

Prison Security and Escapes, Assaults and Contraband

The Department constantly reviews and improves security measures at its prisons to minimise escapes, reduce contraband (including drugs), and improve staff safety. An additional $4.1 million over four years was included in the 2005 Budget to bolster prison security measures and crime prevention initiatives, including setting up monitoring of prisoner telephone calls and increasing staff to collect and analyse information obtained through that monitoring.

As a result, the 2005/06 year saw the continued strengthening of the Department's crime prevention and security capacity. The rollout of generation one electrical security systems in prisons, begun in 2004/05 at the Northland Region Corrections Facility, continued. This improvement will lead to standardisation of security systems by providing centralised control room operations at each prison, improved staff management of the increased security information the systems will provide, and staff training and asset management efficiencies.

Work commenced on the Crime Prevention Information Capability (CPIC) system project. The project will see the collection and analysis of information obtained through monitoring measures to inform decision-making in the prevention and management of prison incidents, to develop strategies to counteract threats to security objectives, and to promote the prevention and detection of crime. Operational procedures for the project were trialled at the Northland Region Corrections Facility in 2005. Specifications for a secure database were then completed, a request for proposal for the database was released and tenders evaluated. At the same time, specifications for telephone monitoring were developed, business process requirements defined and tenders called for and evaluated. The CPIC organisational structure was approved, enabling recruitment of staff for both this project and telephone monitoring, and implementation of the management of change process for existing staff. Work on the CPIC system and telephone monitoring will continue in 2006/07.

Although the average prison population increased by 9.3 percent between 2004/05 and 2005/06, the total number of prisoner escapes against all security classifications increased by only one, from 19 to 20. Of the total escapes, breakout escapes remained the same at 11. While the trend in breakout escapes per 100 prisoners has increased marginally over the last few years, over the longer term, these have reduced by over a third from 0.23 escapes per 100 prisoners in 1998/99 to 0.15 per 100 prisoners in 2005/06.

Despite the increased prisoner numbers, serious assaults on staff reduced from nine in 2004/05 to seven in 2005/06. The number of assaults on staff per 100 prisoners has continued to trend downwards over recent years. Although there have been some fluctuations in results by year, the 2005/06 result of 0.9 assaults per 100 prisoners compares favourably with a recent peak 0.28 in 2001/02, and with 0.81 in 1997/98 and 0.79 in 1998/99.

Tougher contraband detection measures have seen the number of contraband confiscated from prison visitors more than double in the last three years. A total of 1,509 items were confiscated from prison visitors in 2005, up from 698 in 2003. Drugs and drug-related equipment accounts for the majority of seizures at checkpoints with 1,061 items confiscated from visitors in 2005.

The number of cell phones detected has risen four-fold since 2003, when 252 cell phones, chargers or SIM cards were confiscated from visitors or found on prison premises. In 2005, that number rose to 1,047. In response to concern about prisoners using mobile phones from within prisons, the Department established a joint project with Telecom New Zealand and Vodafone New Zealand to examine options and introduce measures for managing the unauthorised use of mobile phones in prisons.

In addition to these measures, the number of general random drug screening tests carried out on prisoners increased by 5 percent in 2005/06. The results reinforced the effectiveness of the security measures in that the number of tests returning positive results dropped from 17 percent in 2004/05 to 15 percent in 2005/06, continuing the downward trend from 22 percent in 2001/02.

Community-based Sentences

The Department managed approximately 65,000 sentences and orders in the community during 2005/06. Of this total, by far the biggest portion was around 45,000 community work sentences This led to over two million hours of free labour being provided by offenders to communities. During the year 41,420 new sentences and orders were commenced. The judiciary received 25,777 reports on individual offenders from Probation Officers.

The Community Probation Service (CPS) was again well supported in managing these sentences and orders by community work sponsors, providers of programmes for domestic violence, sex offending and substance abuse, as it was with the provision of support from the Psychological Service and the delivery of criminogenic programmes by Intervention Services. The Community Residential Centres continued to be an important part of the work done by the Community Probation Service, as was the support provided by Chubb New Zealand Limited for electronic monitoring.

Relationships with those agencies CPS works with in the community were further cemented, particularly with the Police, Child Youth and Family, Courts and Housing New Zealand Corporation. This was particularly enhanced through the design and set up of Support Planning Meetings for high-risk child-sex offenders as part of their entry back into the community from prison. These inter-agency Support Planning Meetings will be implemented nationally during 2006/07.

Enforcement of sentences and orders continued to be a focus for staff, with 18,626 formal breach or recall actions being commenced during the year. The majority of these actions were for community work, which is to be expected given the very high volume of offenders on this sentence. The numbers reflect considerable work by Probation Officers to ensure offenders comply with the conditions of their sentence or order and to take enforcement action if they do not.

During the year, trials got underway to test the possibilities of expanding the technology used for electronic monitoring, via global positioning systems (GPS) and voice verification.

By year–end, the trials were into their second phase and testing had started with offenders rather than staff, as was the case with Phase one. The trials will be completed during 2006/07.

Continuing to improve the way that advice is provided to the judiciary to assist with sentencing and to the New Zealand Parole Board to assist with prison release decisions remained a priority . Reviews were conducted in conjunction with the judiciary to improve the content and format of pre-sentence reports. Work was also undertaken across the Department to improve the design of pre-release processes, the information and reports provided to the Parole Board. Towards the latter end of the year, a review started into the nature of the assessment tools staff use to identify risk and the particular factors associated with each offender's offending that need to be addressed during their sentence.

Considerable work was done on identifying ways that the existing community-based sentencing structure (Community Work and Supervision) could be strengthened as part of the cross-sector Effective Interventions project led by the Ministry of Justice. As a result, the Government announcements in August 2006 on the overall Effective Interventions package included a redesigned community sentence structure. Detailed design and implementation will be undertaken during 2006/07 with an expected start date for the whole structure of 1 October 2007.


Rehabilitation Interventions

Rehabilitative interventions remain a cornerstone of the Department's strategy for delivering on the core outcome of 'reducing reoffending'. A major focus in 2005/06 was the review, enhancement and expansion of existing rehabilitation and reintegration initiatives.

Research continued during the year into the potential treatment of high-risk sex offenders against adults. This culminated in a pilot programme which will be completed in October 2006. Good progress was also made with research into a potential pilot treatment programme for high risk (psychopathic) offenders. Design was completed on a women's criminogenic programme (kowhiritanga) and a comprehensive revision was completed of the Violence Prevention Unit programme that is run from Rimutaka prison. The Drug Treatment Units in prisons were also evaluated this year with a final report due later in 2006.

Also during the year, analysis of the Rehabilitation Quotient results that were presented in the 2004/05 Annual Report, together with the evolving knowledge about what works best with offenders, led to a rethink in the way that some of the Department's criminogenic programmes should be designed and delivered. Two programmes were stopped in March 2006 - a 70-hour Straight Thinking programme and a 100-hour programme that was generic in nature. Although they may have been successful for some individuals, neither of these programmes was demonstrating the positive impact on offenders' behaviour that was required to justify continuing with them.

Changes were subsequently made to the mix, design and structure of the Department's suite of criminogenic programmes. These changes resulted in the intensity of the core programmes being substantively increased. The 100-hour programmes were increased to 140 hours and were completely redesigned to be more comprehensive and to allow for offenders to deal with more than one criminogenic need during the programme. This new comprehensive criminogenic programme will be targeted towards medium-risk offenders. The design of this programme was completed by 30 June 2006. Phased implementation will begin in September 2006 and continue throughout 2006/07. These changes were based on recent international research from which the Department determined that its existing programmes were not long enough, of sufficient intensity or comprehensive enough to result in the most positive impact they could have.

The suite of programmes will now also include a high-intensity 300-hour criminogenic programme targeted towards to high-risk offenders in prison and delivered in a special treatment format. This programme will be designed and get underway in 2006/07.

Both of the new programmes will be supported by a new relapse prevention programme.

In addition, a Structured Motivational Programme will be delivered to prisoners serving sentences less than two years in length commencing in July 2006. Other specific rehabilitative strategies under development include programmes for women's criminogenic needs, high-risk sex offenders and very high-risk psychopathic offenders. The effectiveness of other motivational programmes, such as Tikanga Mâori programmes, Mâori Focus Units and the Faith-based Unit, will also be assessed in the coming year.

Reintegration Initiatives

During 2005/06, the Department also increased its focus on reintegrative strategies, such as promoting employment initiatives, to assist prisoners to reintegrate into the community on release, including increasing their chances of obtaining sustainable employment.

Prisoner Employment and Training

As mentioned in the Chief Executive's Foreword, a major milestone was the release in May 2006 of the Department's Prisoner Employment Strategy 2006-2009. Amongst other things, the strategy aims to significantly increase overall prisoner employment activities over its life.

As well as providing a work ethic and work-based skills and training, industries in prisons provide a range of opportunities for prisoners to obtain credits toward New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) qualifications, including trade qualifi cations.

During 2005/06, the number of hours delivered to prisoners in land-based activities (such as farming, forestry, horticulture) and manufacturing activities (including construction and labour-only services) was marginally above forecast, with over 1.6 million hours delivered to an average of 842 prisoners. These prisoners achieved 3,650 NZQA unit standards.

In addition, a total of over 3.5 million hours of on-the-job training was delivered to prisoners working on internal self-sufficiency activities such as kitchen and laundry, cleaning and prison asset maintenance activities. This was 10 percent above forecast and 20 percent above the previous year. Of this total, 1.25 million hours in NZQA-based activities were delivered to an average of 590 prisoners, who achieved 1,917 NZQA unit standards.

In total, 5,567 NZQA unit standards were achieved by prisoners in 2005/06, an increase of over 52 percent on the previous year total of 3,643 unit standards. Improvements to the delivery of on-the-job training such as the use of external trainers or assigning instructors as “specialist trainers” also resulted in these qualifications being achieved in half the number of prisoner employment hours expected - averaging 308 hours for land-based activities (forecast 588 hours), 761 hours for manufacturing activities (forecast 1,692 hours), and 651 hours for internal self-sufficiency services (forecast 1,058 hours).

Vocational training is an important tool for increasing the numbers of prisoners in quality employment training and providing them with skills required for employment. During 2005/06, the number of prisoners who commenced Public Prison Service vocational training and the percentage who received a qualification were over 20 percent above forecast, reflecting the positive trend established over the previous two years. Corrections Inmate Employment also commenced new training in elementary construction skills at the Northland Region Corrections Facility in November 2005, with one further construction course and two new courses in horticulture and forestry commenced in the first half of 2006.

Release-to-work is a key aspect of the Prisoner Employment Strategy. A review of release-to-work policies was undertaken during 2005/06 and work is continuing to identify and remove barriers to making prisoners available for release-to-work. Operational policy and practice is being revised to ensure greater prisoner participation without compromising community safety. The Department is also working with the Ministry of Social Development to use their skills and resources to secure additional employment opportunities.

New Reintegration Initiatives

As well as focusing on improving existing reintegration programmes, the Department trialled and introduced several new initiatives during 2005/06 to assist prisoners to reintegrate back into the community on release.

Joint Prisoner Reintegration teams are being set up in each prison comprising Work and Income reintegration case workers and departmental reintegration workers as mentioned in the Chief Executive's Foreword.

In collaboration with Housing New Zealand Corporation and the Auckland Prisoners' Aid and Rehabilitation Society (PARS), the Department also undertook a supported accommodation pilot service in Auckland for high-need offenders. At year-end, the target of securing eight properties for the pilot in Auckland had been achieved, with a further two properties secured from July 2006. At 30 June 2006, five of the eight properties were tenanted, with the remainder to be tenanted by high-need offenders due for release in early 2006/07. An evaluation of the pilot will be undertaken in late 2006.


During 2005/06, as outlined in the Chief Executive's Foreword, further positive progress was made on the ongoing process of integrating the Department's functions and was the bedding in of the Department's value statement - PRIDE.

Negotiation of the 2006 Collective Employment Agreements was also a primary focus for the year. The successful conclusion of collective bargaining covering most collective agreements establishes a stable foundation for focussing on our organisational culture and values.

Training of managers and staff is also an integral part of improving departmental capability. The Department's Management at Corrections programme has seen the development of training modules on health and safety, responsiveness to Mâori, performance management, and finance and business information. 2005/06 saw a larger than planned uptake of the Department's Management at Corrections programme modules. Originally, 380 attendees were planned, however a reprioritisation of management development initiatives allowed 525 managers to attend training modules by year-end. Development also started in 2005/06 on two new modules covering induction, recruitment and selection training, and management coaching that will be available in 2006/07.

Also in 2005/06, a new comprehensive 22 module training package for managers and Probation Officers in the Community Probation Service was launched, aimed at improving performance in assessing, and managing offenders in the community, and in working with other parts of the Department and external agencies. A total of 108 Probation Officers received the new training in 2005/06, and 385 Community Probation Service frontline staff and managers received Effective Offender Management (EOM) training.


Finally, the 2005/06 year was a landmark one with the Department winning a number of prestigious awards.

In 2002 the Department introduced its five year Energy Management Strategy. Wide-ranging measures, including incorporating best energy management practice in the design of new facilities, building upgrades and extensions at existing prisons, and achieving energy end-use savings, saw the Department reduce its energy use by 8.6 percent per prisoner and CO2 emissions by 34 percent by 2005.

In August 2005, the Department received the prestigious Leadership in Operational Sustainability

energy efficiency and sustainability award as part of the Ministry for the Environment's new Govt3 programme, for its efforts to promote sustainability in government agencies. In March 2006, the Department won the public sector category of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority EnergyWise Awards.

By 30 June 2006, with the completion of further energy-efficient projects, this reduction in energy use had risen to 9.6 percent per prisoner and 37 percent in CO2 emissions.

In December 2005, the Department also won awards at the New Zealand Institute of Architects' Resene Local Awards and was a finalist in the Ministry for the Environment's Year of the Built Environment Awards. This recognition was for the design of the Northland Region Corrections Facility in balancing the need for cost-effective safety and security with the need to meet environmental concerns.