Improving public safety

For every offender there is at least one victim, that’s why crime is so pervasive in its affect on the lives of the individuals and families it
touches. Improving Public Safety will always be our bottom line because it’s at the heart of the expectations New Zealanders have of our service.

1. Effective Monitoring

We will make use of proven technology to better protect the public and monitor those offenders who pose the highest risk. Following its successful introduction last year, GPS tracking will be expanded in the next 12 months to monitor more people.

Valuable intelligence can come from our own people. We will continue to hone our skills in identifying the signs that risks are escalating and draw on each other’s experience to stay one step ahead.

Our priority to improve public safety is strengthened when we work closely with other agencies. Together with Police, we will introduce a new shared services model for Electronically Monitored Bail that will mean we can keep a closer eye on people on bail. At a local level, we will ensure there is greater collaboration between Police and Corrections staff with more information sharing.

2. Stronger Prisons

Stronger prisons are more than just secure, they operate according to a world-leading standard with a focus on safety and rehabilitation.

With a stable prisoner population and the continued redevelopment of our facilities, we have an opportunity to manage our muster in a way that maximises safety by placing prisoners in prisons that best suit their classification.

Our classification system needs to be streamlined and simplified, and we need to provide more flexibility for the management of remand prisoners. Decision making also needs to be strengthened to ensure our classification decisions support the safety of staff and allow prisoners to take up rehabilitation options.

Greater flexibility is required in the rostering and matching of staff to ensure staff can work where they are needed most, at the times they are needed most. This will help us better manage our prisoners on any given day. Smarter shift patterns like the one being trialled at Otago Corrections Facility (10 hour shifts) have been well received by staff and could form the basis for a significant change in prisoner management.

Our specialist staffing groups such as the Advanced Control and Restraint Team and Prison Negotiators have proven themselves in responding to dangerous situations. We must continue to build the capability of these teams and promote their leadership skills and disciplines for the benefit of the whole prison service.

This year we will begin the rollout of our clear plastic TV rental programme for prisoners. Innovations like this enhance security and safety by reducing contraband and allowing for the broadcasting of two educational channels that will enhance rehabilitation.

3. Management of High Need Offenders

We can improve public safety by ensuring that when people are sentenced to prison or are on remand they are held securely and receive help to reduce their chance of re-offending. With 80% of offenders serving their sentence in the community, the public has a right to feel safe in the knowledge we are doing everything we can to minimise an offender’s risk of re-offending.

Managing our most challenging offenders requires a multidisciplinary approach to the development of action plans and the delivery of services that will impact positively on behaviours.

Expanding the use of our High and Complex Needs Panel into each region will ensure that our highest risk prisoners and offenders in the community have their plans overseen by Corrections’ most senior professionals. These panels will widen their gaze to include health, education, Police and welfare experts in their consideration of plans that can meet both the security and rehabilitation needs of this group.

Gang membership continues to be one of the strongest predictors of ongoing violence and criminal activity among the population we work with. Finding new ways to break the inter-generational cycle of gang association is critical to improving public safety, so focusing on offenders with gang connections and working closely with Police is an important step to be taken this year.

We will build on the success of the High Dependency Unit at Rimutaka Prison, increasing its occupancy this year to allow more prisoners with age-related illnesses to receive appropriate care.

4. New Legislation

Corrections does not make the laws, but we do support our Justice Sector partners and the Government in the development of legislation that increases public safety.

Over the coming year we will be working on an alcohol and drug testing regime for community-based offenders. We will continue to support the passing of the Parole Amendment Bill to alleviate stress on victims of crime, and the introduction of Public Protection Orders to ensure offenders at a very high risk of imminent serious sexual or violent re-offending are able to be detained.