Agency Nature and Scope

Improving public safety and contributing to the maintenance of a just society

The purpose of the Department of Corrections, as defined by the Corrections Act 2004, is to improve public safety and contribute to the maintenance of a just society by:

  • ensuring that custodial and community-based sentences and orders imposed by the Courts and the New Zealand Parole Board are administered in a safe, secure, humane, and effective manner
  • providing for Corrections’ facilities to be operated in accordance with the Corrections Act 2004 that are based, amongst other matters, on the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners
  • assisting in the rehabilitation of offenders and their reintegration into the community through the provision of programmes and other interventions
  • providing information to the Courts and the New Zealand Parole Board to assist their decision-making.

We notify victims of crime, registered by the NZ Police on the Victims Notification Register, of information requirements as set out in the Victims’ Rights Act 2002. We also refer registered victims to specialist support organisations for appropriate assistance.

We manage offenders:

  • serving sentences and orders in the community
  • remanded in custody
  • serving custodial sentences.

The average prison population in 2014/15 was approximately 8,700 individuals, and a further 30,000 were serving a community sentence or order. The Department of Corrections employs nearly 8,000 people1 who work in our 18 prisons2 and 167 Community Corrections Sites.

We aim for a 25% reduction in re-offending by 2017, to be achieved through collaborative work with our sector partners. Achieving this will significantly enhance public safety, reducing victims of crime by 18,500 per year.

The principles we observe

In meeting our purpose, we uphold the following principles:

  • maintaining public safety – the maintenance of public safety is the paramount consideration in decisions about the management of persons under control or supervision of the department
  • in order to reduce the risk of re-offending, offenders are given access to activities and programmes that will contribute to their rehabilitation and reintegration into the community
  • the corrections system ensures the fair treatment of offenders
  • victims’ interests are considered in decisions related to offenders
  • ensuring fair treatment of offenders, taking into account their cultural background, ethnicity, and language
  • encouraging and supporting contact between offenders and their families/whânau where appropriate.

1 Equivalent to 7,570 full time established positions.

2 This figure includes two privately managed prisons (MECF and ASCF) operated by Serco.

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