Re-offending is Reduced

Working towards our target of a 25% reduction in the rate of re-offending.

Reducing re-offending through our six areas of focus

Corrections has developed targeted strategies to reduce re-offending by 25% by 2017, through six areas of focus:

  • tackling alcohol and drug abuse
  • more rehabilitation that works
  • interventions delivered by probation staff
  • education, jobs skills and working prisons
  • real jobs on release, and
  • partnering with iwi and community groups.

Work in these areas will help offenders address the reasons behind their offending and give them the skills, training and experience to make positive changes in their lives. By strengthening rehabilitation and reintegration opportunities for offenders we can reduce re-offending and improve public safety, while contributing to reducing crime overall in New Zealand.

Tackling alcohol and drug abuse

Drug and alcohol abuse is a major driver of crime. Two-thirds of New Zealand prisoners have substance abuse problems and over 50% of crime is committed by people under the influence of drugs or alcohol. By tackling this issue we can help offenders to lead offence-free lives following the completion of their sentences.

We provide alcohol and other drug (AOD) treatment in prisons through six month and three month intensive programmes. In the second part of this financial year we aimed to increase the number of such programmes and lift prisoner participation, and to provide a range of brief interventions to prisoners through our health staff. More than 4,800 brief interventions had been delivered by the end of 2014/15, against a target of 4,300.

We have also worked to achieve earlier identification of community-based offenders who have problems with drugs or alcohol, and to refer them to appropriate rehabilitative services. Over 14,000 drug and alcohol rehabilitation interventions were delivered to community-based offenders by probation officers in this financial year.

More rehabilitation that works

This year:

  • More than 1,300 community-based offenders have received the Medium Intensity Rehabilitation programme (MIRP), above our target of 1,135
  • Over 300 prisoners received treatment in Special Treatment Units
  • The overall number of interventions delivered under this area of focus was above 11,000, well beyond our target of 9,625.

The MIRP is a group-based programme for male offenders aged 20 years and above, with a medium-level risk of re-offending and specifically identified rehabilitative needs. Offenders are encouraged to address the thoughts, attitudes, and behaviour that led to their offending, and are aided in developing strategies to maintain positive change. The programme is available to offenders in prisons as well as those serving sentences in the community, and is delivered by trained programme facilitators.

Key factors targeted for change by the programme include:

  • violence propensity
  • anti-social attitudes
  • poor self-control and impulsivity
  • alcohol and drug abuse, both as a rehabilitative need and a health issue.

Family violence is recognised as a significant and costly social problem in New Zealand, with over 50% of violent crime being related to family violence.

Corrections is piloting a new Community Family Violence programme, created in collaboration with professional programme designers and representatives from a range of providers and agencies, including NZ Police, Ministry for Women, Ministry of Social Development, and the Ministry of Justice. We have been guided by research when considering the best way to design this programme and to target offenders.

In October 2014 we began a multifaceted Family Violence programe (FVP) pilot, with 13 suppliers to test the effectiveness of different models of programme delivery. The pilot is scheduled to be completed in September 2015, and will enhance our base of knowledge and by extension our capacity to provide effective, evidence-based FVPs in future years.

The rehabilitation of young people is another area of particular importance. Young offenders re-offend more frequently and more severely than other offenders and, if they fail to establish a law-abiding lifestyle, their cycle of offending will last for longer and have a greater social impact than would be the case for older offenders. Young people are also more susceptible to change, and the benefits of positive change will last throughout their life.

Programmes within our ongoing Youth Strategy include the Young Offender programme and Mauri Toa Rangatahi. The first of these is a 16 week prison-based programme, which works to address the rehabilitative needs of medium-risk men under 20 years of age. The second programme is for 17-19 year old male offenders serving community-based sentences, and includes group and one-on-one sessions that address issues such as substance abuse, lifestyle balance, and personal supports.

We have also introduced the Parenting with a Purpose programme to offenders, designed to support them to improve their parenting skills and strategies. This will teach pro-social values and behaviour, reducing the exposure of children to ineffective parenting and poor role models. The programme aims to counteract intergenerational cycles of offending, which feeds into our goals within the Youth Strategy and reducing re-offending.

Interventions delivered by probation staff

Probation staff play a crucial role in reducing re-offending. Working on the frontline, they have the ability to make important decisions that can make a real difference to people’s lives. Research shows that a reduction in reconvictions can be achieved by probation officers using the risk, need and responsivity framework in daily interactions with offenders. In line with this, our frontline probation staff are trained to deliver brief relapse prevention and motivational interventions to offenders.

Over this financial year, this area of focus has seen:

  • over 3,000 offenders on community-based sentences receive education and job skills training
  • more than 7,000 community-based offenders receive rehabilitation interventions from probation officers
  • almost 28,000 relapse prevention interventions delivered to community-based offenders.

Education, jobs skills and working prisons

People in regular employment are less likely to offend or re-offend. However, due to their criminal histories and often limited education, many prisoners experience significant difficulty in finding jobs upon release. Addressing this difficulty is vital to achieving success in reducing re-offending.

The working prisons initiative is designed to turn prisons into centres of treatment, learning and industry, with programmes that simulate a 40 hour engagement week for prisoners. By the end of 2014/2015, seven prisons have been converted to the working prisons model, and the initiative continues to be rolled out across the network.

An important part of the initiative is the formation of partnerships between Corrections and other organisations. These partnerships provide opportunities in both learning and industry, as well as providing skills and employment opportunities upon release.

Partnerships with other government departments is an area that Corrections is actively increasing. There is a partnership between Housing NZ and Corrections for prisoners to refurbish homes at Spring Hill Corrections Facility. A total of 125 houses are scheduled to be refurbished over a five year period. Prisoners are able to gain valuable work experience, and earn New Zealand Qualification Authority credits that count towards a National Certificate in Construction Skills.

A further partnership with the Department of Conservation is currently under discussion with a variety of initiatives already identified. These include assisting with the making of wooden bridges and pathways as well as providing native plant nurseries. All these initiatives include training which provide prisoners with skills and qualifications to gain sustainable employment upon release.

Real jobs on release

Recent data has shown that up to 60% of offenders in prison were unemployed prior to imprisonment. In addition, we know that people who find stable employment on leaving prison are significantly less likely to commit crime in the 12 months following their release.

By partnering with employers and industries we have worked to help more prisoners find employment when they leave prison. The search for a job begins in prison and continues once they return to the community.

Training, case management and cooperation with Work and Income all form part of our efforts to improve prisoners’ ability to find work upon release.

During this financial year:

  • over 5,500 community-based offenders have received assistance to find stable employment
  • almost 1,500 prisoners received improved services to assist them in finding stable employment.

The Department of Corrections and Work and Income, through a formal agreement, are working on initiatives that will see prisoners as a priority group who will receive work brokerage support prior to leaving prison. Having prisoners engaged in the job search earlier will see them employed sooner and will likely reduce their flow to the beneficiary system. It is anticipated that with this support, a reduction of long-term benefit liability, as well as building on efforts to reduce re-offending will be achieved.

Agencies consider that the number of prisoners who go on to become long-term beneficiaries or return to prison can be significantly reduced by making concrete improvements in two key areas over the short and longer-term. The first is achieving better integration of Corrections and Work and Income services pre-release, ensuring that prisoners know they will be expected to seek employment following release, and supporting them to do so. The second is stronger support and incentives for prisoners following release, supporting those that have been educated, trained, and rehabilitated to find employment. These initiatives will have positive implications for long-term benefit liability as well as reduce their risk of re-offending.

In supporting offenders to gain employment, Corrections purchases employment-supported services that provide job searching and in-work support to offenders. The in-work support assists prisoners for the first 6 months of their employment.

Work has continued with a range of groups to provide rehabilitative and reintegrative support to offenders
75% of prisoners have demonstrated measurable gains with literacy and numeracy

Partnering with iwi and community groups

Corrections works with several iwi and community groups, which have proven results in rehabilitation and helping prisoners to return successfully to their communities. We have worked closely with these groups in this financial year, to improve the design and delivery of contracted services. Offenders often find themselves in unique and challenging circumstances when they are released from prison, and services need to be tailored to meet the individual needs of these offenders and their whänau or family support networks. Improvements have been agreed to the supported accommodation service, which will see an additional 140 offenders receive support in seven additional provincial areas from 2015/16. A new emergency accommodation service has also been contracted, which will support up to 250 offenders in the time immediately after they are released from prison.

Our use of results-driven contracts has linked the purchasing of services to outcomes that make a difference, putting increased emphasis on helping offenders to live law abiding lives on the completion of their sentences. This includes maintaining suitable accommodation and sustainable employment.

Corrections has continued to work with a range of groups to provide rehabilitative and reintegrative services to offenders. These include Prisoner’s Aid and Rehabilitation Societies, which provide general reintegrative support; the Salvation Army, Anglican Action, and the Salisbury Street Foundation that provide accommodation support; and the Problem Gambling Foundation and Alcoholics Anonymous, which provide targeted forms of addiction counselling and support.

Offender education

Supporting offenders to gain education and achieve recognised qualifications is an essential component of reducing re-offending. A stable job is one of the most fundamental components of a law-abiding lifestyle, and qualifications and education are key to enhancing an offender’s employability.

Without basic English literacy and numeracy skills, offenders are limited in their ability to gain qualifications and secure employment. Not having these skills will impact on all aspects of offenders’ lives, making it more difficult to gain employment and contributing to re-offending. While offenders are in our custody we have an opportunity to support them to lift their skill levels and improve their chances of gaining employment on release.

Embedded literacy and numeracy

Over 60 education, community and employment staff have participated in embedded literacy and numeracy training across the regions in the past year. The training is provided by Adult Literacy Education and Consulting Ltd and enables staff to attain the National Certificate in Adult Literacy and Numeracy Education (Vocational) Level 5.

Over 80% of participants have graduated with this qualification and are now able to use the Literacy and Numeracy for Adults Assessment Tool developed for national use by the Tertiary Education Commission. They are also able to support learners to lift their literacy and numeracy skills in various learning contexts.

In total we now have over 140 qualified staff in prison and the community who can embed literacy and numeracy within their learning and industry environments. Embedded literacy and numeracy can support those who are wanting to attain Level 1 and 2 qualifications.

Implementation of Secure Online Learning

During 2014/15, the department has developed, tested and implemented 14 Secure Online Learning computer suites across 11 prison sites. The Secure Online Learning solution allows carefully selected prisoners restricted access to 12 pre-approved educational websites, including sites that improve literacy, numeracy and digital skills, and provide access to NCEA subjects, Te Reo Maori, drivers licence theory, budgeting, careers guidance and job search skills. The implementation has involved the upgrade of prison IT infrastructure and provision of modern IT equipment for existing computer suites.

The implementation solution follows a successful pilot at Christchurch Men’s Prison Youth Unit in 2014. Youths achieved statistically significant gains in reading and numeracy skills at twice the rate of similar age students in the community, and also achieved more NCEA credits than their peers had in the previous year.

Memorandum of Understanding with the Tertiary Education Commission

Early in 2014, Corrections and the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to enable a more collaborative achievement in rehabilitation, education, and employment.

As a result of this MOU, for the first time, tertiary education organisations were able to submit bids for delivery of prison-based education services, as part of the TEC’s level one and two qualification competitive funding process. The education market responded strongly to this, and the department was able to grow the number of learner places for prisoners from around 900 to 1,700 per annum. In addition, this allowed for a greater focus to be placed on education at each prison site, and allowed for a wider range of qualifications to be made available for prisoners, including an ongoing focus on trades training and the National Certificate in Educational Achievement.

Offender employment

Assisting offenders to gain meaningful and fulfilling employment can be central to breaking the cycle of re-offending. International research has shown a positive link between the stability, income, and satisfaction gained from work and a reduction in an offender’s likelihood to re-offend. Employment can provide structure and purpose in a person’s life, and can cement an offender’s transition to a sustainable and law abiding lifestyle.

The following outcomes make up Corrections’ framework for offender employment:

  • Forming a pathway to stable, real jobs on release
  • Representing the most cost effective way for offenders to gain experience and skills
  • Avoiding unacceptable risks to public safety.

Industry and training within prisons

Industries that operate within prisons, as well as activities that are required for prisons to be run, provide valuable opportunities for offenders to gain education, training, skills, and experience, and to develop a sound work ethic. It can also assist prisons to become more self-sufficient, and reduces operational costs by minimising the need for external workers.

Corrections seeks to be dynamic in its provision of training and industries within prisons, aligning these with the skills and rehabilitative needs of prisoners, the requirements of local industries, the direction of the national economy and the goals of the wider public service.

A further initiative aims to optimise employment outcomes through changes to prisoner placements. If a prisoner has basic construction skills and comes from a region where construction skills are in demand, then they will be placed in a prison that encourages training or employment in construction. This rationalises the supply of training programmes and avoids the need for every programme to be offered in every prison.

Industries currently available within prisons, which contribute to effective functioning of the sites, include laundry, cleaning, and asset maintenance. Other industries for which training or employment programmes are available include horticulture, painting, construction, joinery, wood carving, light engineering, catering, and landscaping.

Release to Work

Release to Work is an employment programme that allows eligible prisoners, who have demonstrated an active commitment to building a law-abiding lifestyle, to take part in employment away from the prison site. Advice on prisoners’ suitability and eligibility is provided by multi-disciplinary panels, which provide similar support for all temporary releases. The programme allows prisoners to develop or maintain the skills and habits of normal employment, and to rebuild contact with employers and the general public.

Employers engaged in the Release to Work programme are encouraged to offer permanent and sustainable jobs to their Release to Work workers following release. In the 2014/15 financial year, 50% of prisoners who took part in Release to Work gained permanent employment with the same employer at the end of their prison sentences.

In the community

Community probation works alongside community organisations and employers to support offenders to gain and maintain sustainable employment. Probation officers can provide several forms of assistance to offenders serving community-based sentences, including linking them to potential employers, ensuring the provision of appropriate training and employment support services, and organising contact between the offender and Work and Income.

Future initiatives

Corrections is finalising a new offender employment strategy and has introduced a set of planning tools designed to focus each site’s mix of training and employment-based activities. This will better align prisoners’ employment readiness with the needs of the local employment market. This initiative, along with our efforts to strengthen partnerships with local industry, will be a catalyst for us to achieve medium-term improvements in the opportunities for prisoners to attain sustainable jobs on release.

Prisoners securing employment with their Release to Work employer on release: 2010/11 39%, 2011/12 47%, 2012/13 48%, 2013/14 43%, 2014/15 50%

Offenders in employment six months after being released from prison or commencing a community-based sentence or order, as percentages: 2010/11 prison releases 21.6, community sentence starts 37.4; 2011/12 prison releases 22.5, community sentence starts 38.5; 2012/13 prison releases 22.7, community sentence starts 40.1; 2013/14 prison releases 25.4, community sentence starts 41.2; 2014/15 prison releases 27.3, community sentence starts 43.6

Working prisons

Working prisons are designed to engage prisoners in a 40 hour week with activities in industry, treatment, and learning, in preparation for release and reintegration. The 40 hours are made up of activities within the four pillars of a working prison: rehabilitation and reintegration, education and training, employment, and other constructive activities. These help to optimise prisoner pathways, and help them develop skills, experience and behaviours that will assist them in finding employment and stability following release. Through this focus on preparing prisoners for life following release, working prisons have become a key part of our efforts to reduce re-offending by 25% by 2017.

Activities that have taken place within the framework of the working prisons initiative include:

  • Expanded opportunities for prisoners to attain education qualifications through the Tertiary Education Commission and other providers
  • Greater attendance at rehabilitative programmes with a particular focus on provision to short-servers
  • A new café and catering business onsite at Auckland Region Women’s Corrections Facility whose customers include local businesses
  • Partnerships with other government departments in which prisoners are provided with skills and qualifications to assist in gaining sustainable employment upon release.

Three sites, Auckland Region Women’s Corrections Facility, Rolleston Prison, and Tongaririo/Rangipo Prison, became fully functional working prisons in December 2014. Four more sites, Hawkes Bay Regional Prison, Northland Region Corrections Facility, Otago Corrections Facility, and Spring Hill Corrections Facility, had completed their transitions by 30 June 2015. Nine remaining sites, Arohata Prison, Auckland Prison, Christchurch Men’s Prison, Christchurch Women’s Prison, Invercargill Prison, Manawatu Prison, Rimutaka Prison, Waikeria Prison, and Whanganui Prison, are completing their transitions and aim to be achieving 100% engagement by 2017.

Responding to offenders’ reintegrative needs

Continued funding for Out of Gate

Justice Sector funding for Out of Gate has been extended for another 12 months. The Out of Gate service supports offenders at a particularly vulnerable stage of their lives, when they are released from prison and reintegrating into the community. While in prison offenders are isolated from society and support networks, and upon release they often have little money, few relationships and no job or accommodation. Out of Gate works with them both before and after release, supporting offenders through every aspect of their reintegration. This can include assistance to attend doctors’ appointments, set up bank accounts, prepare for interviews or write CVs to apply for employment, and maintain programmes of rehabilitation and other forms of treatment.

The services within Out of Gate are provided by a number of organisations within the community. These include Presbyterian Support, Goodwood Park Healthcare Group, CareNZ, Healthcare of New Zealand Ltd, and the National Urban Maori Authority. By working with these organisations Corrections can help to make an ongoing difference in the lives of offenders, turning their release from prison from a time of vulnerability to one of renewed, positive involvement in their communities.

More than 4,000 prisoners have been referred to Out of Gate for post-release reintegrative support

Reducing the rate of re-offending

In May 2012, Corrections committed to achieving a 25% reduction in the rate of re-offending by June 2017. This would see the re-offending rate drop to 22.6% from the 2011 baseline of 30.1%.

Over the past three years Corrections, with the support of other agencies, has made significant progress towards the target by focusing our efforts on preparing offenders for employment, expanding and strengthening rehabilitation and reintegration programmes, and tackling alcohol and other drug abuse to support offenders to live crime-free lives in the community.

In February 2014 we reached the halfway point (12.6%), however our progress has since slowed (see graph below). Although the number of prisoners reimprisoned and the number of community-based offenders reconvicted has fallen since June 2011, the increase in the proportion of offenders with more entrenched and complex issues has made achievement of the target more difficult.

Table 1 shows the results of outcomes analysis for our rehabilitation and reintegration programmes and interventions for the 2014/15 year.

Quarterly composite re-offending rates: June 2009 31.9, June 2010 32.2, June 2011 30.1, June 2012 28.2, June 2013 26.8, June 2014 26.4, June 2015 27.5

Table 1: Rehabilitation Quotient scores (reimprisonment and reconviction, 12 month follow up) for prison and community interventions.

Prisoner interventions

Reimprisonment (12 month follow up)

Reconviction (12 month follow up)

Special Treatment Unit Rehabilitation programme



Special Treatment Unit – Child Sex Offender programme



Medium Intensity Rehabilitation programme



Young Offenders programme



Drug Treatment Unit programme (3 months)



Drug Treatment Unit programme (6 months)



Short Motivational programme



Trade & technical training



Employment-related training



Short gains



Release to Work



Out of Gate



Community-based interventions



Medium Intensity Rehabilitation programme



Short Rehabilitation programme



Short Motivational programme



Alcohol and Other Drug programme



Tikanga Maori programme



Outcomes are measured by the Rehabilitation Quotient (RQ), which compares the rates of reconviction and reimprisonment for offenders who completed a rehabilitative intervention with the rates of a matched group who did not complete that intervention (see appendix two).

There have been significant reductions in reconviction and reimprisonment rates across a wide range of programmes and interventions both in prison and the community.

The Special Treatment Unit rehabilitation programmes continue to show extremely good levels of effectiveness. This is the third year that the programmes have shown effect sizes of around 10 percentage points. The reduction in reconvictions (ie re-offending resulting in either a prison sentence or a community sentence) was almost twice that, at 17.1 percentage points. Reductions of this extent, with some of the most high-risk and long-serving offenders we manage, continues to place these programmes on a par with the best in the world.

The outcome for the Young Offenders programme this year is perhaps the best ever recorded. Nearly 400 prisoners who started a prison sentence in 2014/15 were under the age of 20, and this 16 week period programme targets young offenders with a medium-risk of re-offending. Investment in this programme is valuable considering the potential for preventing long-term offending by young offenders.

The first annual analysis of the Out of Gate navigation service also shows good impacts for a relatively light-touch reintegrative support service.

Alcohol and drug treatment programmes and interventions both in prison and community have shown positive results, as has the Medium Intensity Rehabilitation programme (MIRP). In the community the MIRP – a group-based programme for offenders with a medium-level risk of re-offending – has shown a very strong impact in reducing reconvictions. Not only do these results create a positive impact on the justice sector pipeline, reducing the potential for high policing and court costs, but is strategically significant for reducing the overall offender population in the future.

Valuable contributions also continue to be made by services focused on education and employment.

RR25% Boost aims to reduce re-offending through a focus on key, high-volume offender populations

Over 9,000 additional Work and Living Skills interventions will be delivered to offenders

Our refreshed approach – RR25% Boost

Although we have made progress in our efforts to reduce re-offending, there is more to be done. Corrections has introduced RR25% Boost as a secondary push, intensifying our efforts to achieve our target of reducing re-offending. RR25% Boost has a focus on lifting participation rates of offenders in rehabilitative programmes, improving our rehabilitation efforts with people serving short sentences in prison and creating opportunities for community-based offenders through life skills programmes such as those designed to improve literacy and road safety.

Making permanent, positive changes to offenders’ lives will create equally permanent reductions in re-offending, and is one of the most important things that we can do to improve public safety.

The programme of work has the potential to reduce the number of offenders re-offending by more than 1,400, by:

  • Creating an expectation that short-serving prisoners (those sentenced to less than 2 years) will complete AOD interventions and attend a combination of educational and therapeutic interventions (eg education, family violence programme, short rehabilitation programme, short motivation programme). We are adapting processes such as scheduling to ensure interventions can commence from the point an individual starts on remand. Once the interventions have been completed, short-serving offenders would have access to the Out of Gate navigation service.
  • Enhancing the current menu of Work and Living Skills activities for community-based offenders to lift the target annually from 10,000 to 24,000 participants. This would include increasing access to programmes that cover literacy and numeracy, road safety and drink driving, driver licence support, health and safety training, and support for managing finances, benefit and debt.
  • Lifting programme participation for offenders on intensive supervision or supervision orders using a greater suite of brief interventions.

Maintaining the health and wellbeing of offenders in custody

Feeling physically and mentally healthy is an essential component of rehabilitation. The state of a person’s health affects their overall wellbeing, and a healthy person is better able to live a full and law-abiding life. When an offender’s physical and mental health needs are being met, they are able to focus on rehabilitation and reintegration.

Many offenders enter prison with serious health issues resulting from a lifetime of inadequate care, lack of screening for chronic conditions, violence, alcohol and drug abuse and poverty-related illness. The prison population tends to have healthcare needs in excess of those of the general population, for example a prisoner in their 50s is likely to be in a state of health comparable to someone 10 years older in the general community. This situation will be exacerbated as the average age of prisoners continues to rise.

It is a legislative responsibility of Corrections to keep offenders safe in our care. Incidents of unnatural death and life threatening self-harm are causes for serious concern. Reducing the numbers of such incidents remains a key priority.

Offenders are entitled to the same healthcare as the general population and the department has a responsibility to provide healthcare within prisons.

Corrections’ plans for 2014/15 were centred on maintaining the continuous improvement loop of programmes from the previous year. These include an ongoing pilot of expanded primary mental health services, introducing options for Hepatitis C screening in conjunction with the Hepatitis Foundation, and the expansion of the High Dependency Unit at Rimutaka Prison. Initiatives are also being developed with a focus on the prevention of self-harm, including tools to assess levels of risk and new processes for the transition of prisoners between At-Risk Units and the mainstream population.

Healthcare provided within the prison system has generally achieved or exceeded Corrections’ targets. Over 100,000 consultations took place between prisoners and healthcare staff, 99% of newly received prisoners received health triage assessments on their day of reception, and more than 97% of prisoners identified as requiring cardio-vascular risk assessments received one within eight weeks of reception. In addition, Cornerstone® Accreditation of Health Centres within all public prisons has been retained.

The expansion of the High Dependency Unit at Rimutaka Prison will increase the number of available places from 20 to 30. The unit has been widely recognised as a model for the management of offenders who have been assessed as requiring a higher-level of care than that available in mainstream prison units. The expansion represents a significant advance in Corrections’ capacity to ensure the wellbeing of prisoners with high-level needs who are not eligible for release.

Corrections will shortly have the results of a major survey of prisoners’ mental health and substance abuse disorders. This survey involved 1,200 prisoners received in prison over the first half of this year, and will produce accurate quantification of the proportion of the prison population who suffer from psychiatric disorders. This information will be invaluable to improving services to address these needs within the prison population.

Unnatural deaths in prisons

The number of unnatural deaths in prisons has increased since last year while the number of life threatening self-harm incidents has decreased. Both remain uncommon in terms of the overall prison population; in 2014/15 there have been eight unnatural deaths and four life threatening self-harm incidents within an average prison population of over 8,700. The decrease in self-harm threats to life represents a success in the ability of staff to identify and manage at-risk individuals; prison staff have intervened at least 85 times in self-harm incidents over the previous five years. Corrections continues to investigate and assess such incidents as part of efforts to avoid future occurrences as much as possible.

Number of unnatural deaths and self-harm threat to life incidents

Financial Year

Unnatural deaths

Self-harm threat to life incidents
















Justified complaints to the Corrections Inspectorate

The Inspectorate is Corrections’ second tier of complaints resolution. As such, it is effectively our last opportunity to resolve a complaint before the involvement of external agencies or court action.

Complaints received by the Inspectorate are categorised into one of 18 complaint groups, such as food services, security classifications, and prisoner work and pay.

The number of justified complaints to the Corrections Inspectorate has been higher than anticipated. Of the complaints made in 2014/15, 42 were found to be justified, up from 38 in 2013/14. 2.5% of total complaints were found to be justified, so the number here represents a very low proportion of the interactions that occur each year between Corrections and offenders.

100% of prison Health Centres have retained Cornerstone® Accreditation

Responding to incidents in prisons

Following a death and a serious assault at one of our prisons in March and April 2015, two reviews were carried out into the prison’s operations. These reviews were the Well Functioning Site Report and the Operational Review Report, which returned a series of recommendations to improve Corrections’ sites and minimise the likelihood of future incidents.

The Well Functioning Site Report made use of a new assessment matrix which identifies both areas of operational strength, as well as areas requiring improvements. A number of steps were outlined and implemented to strengthen the areas requiring improvement, including the assignment of an additional principal corrections officer, enhanced training and support for other staff and changes to prisoner management to provide more unlock time and structured activities. Prisoners associated with the incident that resulted in the death of another prisoner have been moved to other facilities, which has been judged to have significantly improved the environment at the prison.

The Operational Review Report identified areas in which prison staff could improve their ability to recognise threats to prisoners’ wellbeing, and made five specific recommendations in relation to this. Four of the recommendations have been put in place. Subsequent staff safety risk assessments have led to the fifth recommendation being reconsidered. Other areas identified by the report have been considered by the prison and will be acted on when appropriate solutions are developed.

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