Outcome: Offenders are Managed Safely and Humanely

What the Department is seeking to achieve

  • Offenders are managed safely and humanely when they:
  • are protected from avoidable harm and their legitimate needs are met
  • are protected from harm by other offenders or from self-harm
  • can fulfil their sentence requirement in a safe environment, particularly when undertaking employment or work activities
  • are treated fairly with dignity
  • are able to raise legitimate grievances and have them addressed.

In addition to this, prisoners are managed safely and humanely when they:

  • are housed humanely and have their basic human needs (food, shelter, clothing) met
  • receive adequate health care
  • can maintain pro-social relationships with family and friends
  • have access to spiritual support
  • have access to a reasonable level of physical exercise.

What the Department will do to achieve this outcome

The Department ensures that prisoners’ legitimate needs are met in prison, as outlined in sections 69-82 of the Corrections Act 2004.

Keeping offenders safe is a constant challenge for staff, given many offenders are at vulnerable stages in their lives or may resort rapidly to violence when facing conflict or frustration. Staff are trained to work with prisoners to create a stable environment and to watch for early warning signs of potential violence. If violence does occur, staff are trained in de-escalation and approved control and restraint techniques. Staff are also trained to minimise incidents of self-harm by prisoners, including suicide and drug overdoses.

Deaths in prison are rare, and on the unfortunate occasions when they do occur an investigation is carried out, independently of Prison Services, into the circumstances surrounding the death.

The Department has health and safety systems in place for the thousands of offenders in the community and in prisons undertaking work-related activities.

All prisoners have their health needs assessed when entering prison and primary health care services are provided at a level comparable to those available to the general public. The Department employs nursing staff and contracts medical officers and dentists to provide medical and dental care. District Health Board’s provide secondary and tertiary health services.

As with all outcomes, the Department works with other agencies and community groups to ensure offenders are managed safely and humanely. In particular, the Department works with:

  • the Offender-Related Health Action Group with the Ministry of Health. This Group’s aim is to address the health issues of offenders by ensuring they receive a standard of health care and access to health services that is equivalent of that of the general population
  • the Ministry of Social Development to ensure the safe and humane management of the custody of young offenders. In addition, the Department has been working with the Ministry of Youth Development to ensure prison policy and procedures regarding youth offenders complies with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child
  • the Office of the Ombudsmen, which is being enhanced to provide increased independent oversight of prisons, including the investigation of serious incidents and the undertaking of reviews of systemic issues identified during visits or following complaints and incidents.

Specific projects that the Department will work on over the medium term to manage offenders safely and humanely include:

  • developing permanent vehicle standards for prisoner escorts
  • developing and investigating options for the ongoing management of prisoner escorts
  • reviewing the Prisoner Placement System, and if appropriate, investigating options for further roll-out of this system to those prisons with appropriate facilities
  • reviewing the Structured Day System, and if appropriate, investigating options for the further roll-out of this system to those prisons with appropriate facilities
  • implementing the new Health Assessment Policy and Procedures
  • implementing of the Health Care Pathway
  • developing and implementing an Incident Response Framework
  • reviewing the management of at-risk offenders
  • reviewing the management of young offenders
  • implementing the new Operational Protocol with the Office of the Ombudsmen.

Output classes that contribute to managing offenders safely and humanely include:

  • Output Class 3: Custody of Remand Prisoners.
  • Output Class 4: Escorts and Custodial Supervision.
  • Output Class 5: Custodial Services.
  • Output Class 7: Rehabilitative Programmes and Reintegrative Services.
  • Output Class 10: Service Purchase, Provision and Monitoring.

How the Department will demonstrate success in achieving this outcome

The Department will use the following outcome indicators to monitor its contribution to managing offenders safely and humanely:

  • rates of serious offender assaults
  • rates of unnatural deaths in prisons.