Report Examining Inter-prison Transfers Released – Office of the Inspectorate

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The Office of the Inspectorate today released a report that examines why and how people are moved between prisons.

The thematic report examines the rationale and challenges of prisoner transfers. It also provides insights into the impacts of transfers on prisoners and their families and whānau.

The Inspectorate interviewed 84 prisoners in 10 prisons, and numerous staff, for the thematic report.

“I was pleased to find that Corrections has made significant progress in considering the needs of prisoners in transfer decisions in the last two years,” said Chief Inspector Janis Adair. “This progress aligns with the Department of Corrections’ Hōkai Rangi Strategy, which aims to support the wellbeing of people under its management.

“While good progress has been made, we also found some inconsistencies in some processes for deciding which prisoners to transfer and how they were informed of their transfer. Some further concerns were raised about the transfer journey itself.”

The Inspectorate makes ten recommendations to improve the management of inter-prison transfers.

The number of people transferred between prisons peaked at 11,223 in 2019 and decreased to 7,697 last year (largely due to Corrections’ response to COVID-19 and a smaller overall prison population).

Transfers take place for a variety of reasons, such as for rehabilitation, to move closer to home regions, to safeguard prisoners’ wellbeing and to attend court. Many transfers were undertaken to manage prison population pressures. Some people were transferred more than once.

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While transferring prisoners is often necessary, it can disrupt the lives of prisoners and their support networks, as well as incurring costs for Corrections.

This inter-prison thematic inspection considered the treatment and experiences of prisoners who are transferred between prisons alongside the values that underpin the Corrections’ Hōkai Rangi strategy, to provide an analysis of:

» the rationale and challenges associated with inter-prison transfers and whether decisions are reasonable, necessary and proportionate, person centric and achieve the anticipated outcomes,

» how safety, security, dignity and prisoner health and wellbeing needs are met before and after inter-prison transfers,

» the impact that inter-prison transfers have on prisoners, and where appropriate, their family and whānau.

The Office of the Inspectorate works to ensure that all prisoners are treated in a way that is fair, safe, secure and humane. The Inspectorate is part of the Department of Corrections, but functions independently to ensure objectivity and integrity.

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