The Corrections Inspectorate is to be strengthened with a package of measures designed to increase transparency and provide assurance on the running of our prisons, Corrections Minister Louise Upston says.
“The Corrections Inspectorate is a critical part of the oversight of the Corrections system. This is a positive move that will improve public understanding and confidence in Corrections.”
The changes have been developed in consultation with the State Services Commission, and Corrections is working to implement them within the next six months.
Changes include the introduction of regular proactive reviews of all prisons and a new prisons inspection team that will work within but separately to the general Corrections Inspectorate. Reports by the prison inspectors will be provided to the Minister of Corrections and summaries of the reports will be released publicly.
Other changes include:An enhanced Chief Inspector role which includes more wide-ranging powers and functions A boost in the number of Inspectorate staff, including eight new inspectors.
“These changes will provide greater assurance for me, the Corrections’ chief executive and his leadership team, and the public about the safe, secure and humane treatment of prisoners, operational issues and best practice,” Ms Upston says.
“The reviews will also identify emerging risks so that these can be dealt with swiftly.”
The new prison inspection framework will be based on international best practice. Under this framework prisons will be assessed on whether prisoners are safely held, treated with respect, engaged in meaningful rehabilitation and prepared for community reintegration.
The first inspection under the new framework will take place this month at Manawatu Prison.
Corrections is advertising to fill the role of the new Chief Inspector, who will oversee the new programme of inspections, along with the traditional work of investigating complaints and undertaking reviews.
Corrections Minister Louise Upston has welcomed the release of the Chief Ombudsman’s report into Corrections’ care and management of prisoners at risk of self-harm.
“I have been briefed by the Corrections chief executive on the report into the use of restraints as part of the management of at risk prisoners,” Ms Upston says.
“There are lessons for Corrections in the Chief Ombudsman’s report and in the department’s own investigation into one of the cases. I am pleased that Corrections chief executive Ray Smith responded proactively by further investigating one of the cases in detail. A summary of the Chief Inspector’s report on that investigation has also been released today.
“As a result of these reports, there have been changes made to the policy and practice around the use of tie-down beds, and Corrections has begun a programme to improve the staffing and operating approach to its At Risk Units. I am also pleased that three of five recommendations arising from the Chief Inspector’s report have already been completed, with two being progressed,” Ms Upston says.
“Corrections staff perform an extremely difficult job and work with many prisoners who have complex and long-standing mental illness. The five cases highlighted in the Chief Ombudsman’s report represent some of the criminal justice and health sectors’ most challenging individuals.
“Without the intervention of Corrections staff, including the use of restraints, these prisoners may well have died. The bottom line for Corrections must always be to maintain the lives of the people in their care, while treating them with dignity.”
Associate Minister for Primary Industries Louise Upston has announced changes to Gisborne region’s Erosion Control Funding Programme to allow a wider range of measures to manage erosion in the region.
The changes will support Te Huarahi Hei Whai Oranga – the Tairāwhiti Economic Action Plan, launched today.
The $30 million Erosion Control Funding Programme (ECFP), administered by the Ministry for Primary Industries, has been running since 1992. It focuses on reducing severe erosion in the Gisborne region, which is susceptible to high-intensity weather which causes soil erosion and downstream flooding.
“The Gisborne district has great potential for primary sector economic growth but in many cases erosion affects land productivity,” Ms Upston says.
“The changes involve widening the scope of what can be funded by the ECFP, meaning there will be funding available for a wider range of measures which support and contribute to forestry and erosion control. The fund will now be able to assist community groups, iwi and other organisations with innovative ideas to reduce erosion.
The programme was reviewed last year in consultation with Te Runanganui o Ngāti Porou and Gisborne District Council. In November 2016 a change to the payment structure and an extension of the land categories eligible for funding were announced.
The further changes announced today complete the improvements that stemmed from the review.
“All the improvements that have been made to the fund are now in place to ensure we can support initiatives that will deliver the best outcomes for the Gisborne district,” Ms Upston says.
For more information on the Erosion Control Funding Programme visit www.mpi.govt.nz/ECFP
Economic Development Minister Simon Bridges, Associate Primary Industries Minister Louise Upston and other Ministers are in Gisborne today for the release of the Tairāwhiti Economic Action Plan, highlighting the Government’s support for the region.
The plan has been developed by Tairāwhiti people for the community and represents a shared investment in the future. The plan’s development was led by the Tairāwhiti Action Plan Governance Group and is supported through the Government’s Regional Growth Programme.
It articulates opportunities identified by the region and represents their priorities for the next five years.
“Growing Tairāwhiti tourism to attract more visitors, upgrading state highways, improving digital connection, and growing skills so that businesses are better supported by the labour force are all actions identified by the region as needed in order to grow and thrive,” says Mr Bridges.
It is linked to, and has been launched alongside, the Tairāwhiti Māori Economic Development Report which focuses on a Māori economic perspective.
“The dual launch demonstrates the desire for a regional approach to economic development and to recognise that Māori have a critical role to play in boosting economic growth,” says Mr Bridges.
Tairāwhiti is a small economy underpinned by an export-focused agriculture sector.
“The East Coast has a comparative advantage and is internationally competitive in the primary sectors including forestry, beef and lamb, horticulture and viticulture,” Ms Upston says.
“25 per cent of regional GDP and 26 per cent of employment is in the primary sectors and through the Action Plan we will stimulate sustainable primary industry growth to create more jobs and improved environmental performance,” Ms Upston says.
Regional economic development is a key government priority and is supported by the Regional Growth Programme.
The programme is co-led by the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment, and the Ministry of Primary Industries, with other government agencies, to increase jobs, income and investment in regional New Zealand.
More information can be found at http://www.mbie.govt.nz/info-services/sectors-industries/regions-cities/regional-growth-programme/gisborne-tairawhiti
Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Paul Goldsmith and Associate Education Minister Louise Upston have today announced the release of a new online resource designed to help young people enter the workforce.
The Employability Skills Framework clearly sets out the key behaviours, attitudes and personal qualities employers say are essential for getting and keeping a job.
“Getting the job and career you want means having the right attributes and behaviours to accompany your qualifications and educational achievements. An example of this is the need for resilience in the rapidly changing world of work. Employees need to be able to handle challenges and setbacks in the workplace and seek the support they need to grow,” says Mr Goldsmith.
“The framework was designed by representatives from industry, education and government. It outlines the employability skills and competencies that help young people adapt to life in the workforce. It complements the National Curriculum for schools, and has been user-tested with groups of employers, educators and secondary students,” he says.
“This guide will be a great resource that will help young people, their teachers, family and whānau. It will help young people get work-ready,” Ms Upston says.
“The new framework has been developed to complement other resources, such as those Careers NZ makes available on its website to help young people moving from study into the workforce, and the 2017 Occupation Outlook.”
“The new framework is a great example of successful collaboration. The Pathways Advisory Group, which developed the guide, encompasses outlooks and experience from several sectors, and I am grateful to all those who contributed,” Mr Goldsmith says.
A programme is being piloted in South Auckland to help 450 young offenders gain a full driver licence, improving road safety and reducing offending.
“Gaining a driver licence can help young people turn their lives around, get jobs and move away from crime. People in gainful employment are less likely to reoffend,” Corrections Minister Louise Upston says.
The two-year pilot is aimed at Maori offenders aged 17-24 in the community and in prison. Maori have a high proportion of convictions for licence/regulatory offences.
The pilot programme will be delivered at Auckland Prison, Auckland Region Women’s Corrections Facility, and at six Community Corrections sites in South Auckland. South Auckland has the highest number of driver-related infringements for youth in the country.
“Young people who appear in court on a traffic offence have very high reoffending rates,” says Ms Upston.
The Justice Sector Fund approved $606,000 for the pilot. It will cover driving lessons, the cost of birth certificates if required, mock practical tests and all licence test fees.
An instructor will deliver the pilot at the two prisons and an external provider will work with those on community-based sentences. Tuition will include literacy and numeracy support if required, alcohol and other drug education and safer driving messages.
Corrections Minister Louise Upston today opened a new residential facility at Christchurch Men’s Prison that will accommodate high-risk sexual or violent offenders subject to Public Protection Orders.
“The Matawhāiti Residence is designed to balance public safety with the appropriate management and rehabilitation of its residents. It is intended to better protect the community, rather than act as a punishment for the residents,” Ms Upston says.
A Public Protection Order (PPO) is a court order that allows the detention of very high-risk individuals at a secure facility within prison precincts. These civil detention orders may be put in place for individuals who have served a finite prison sentence but still pose a very high risk of imminent and serious sexual or violent offending and cannot be safely managed in the community.
“Residents are on a civil detention order and are not prisoners. While they have completed their term of imprisonment, psychologists and the courts have determined that a small number of individuals still pose a risk of reoffending.
“The facility allows residents as much autonomy and quality of life as possible while ensuring their safety and the orderly running of the facility. Residents also have personalised management programmes with goals that will contribute towards their eventual release,” Ms Upston says.
Matawhāiti is a secure facility. Residents will be accommodated in blocks of two self-contained units. Two blocks have so far been built, offering six residential units. One has been designed to accommodate a person with physical disabilities. Provision has been made for a further six blocks and, once completed, will accommodate up to 24 residents.
Offenders spent more than 90,000 hours last year learning work and living skills aimed at positive change in their lives and reducing the likelihood they will reoffend, Corrections Minister Louise Upston says.
Work and Living Skills (WLS) is part of community work sentences in which eligible offenders sentenced to more than 80 hours of community work may be able to convert up to 20 per cent of their hours into work and skills training.
Last year offenders completed 90,759 hours of WLS, up from 72,160 hours in 2015. The number of offenders completing WLS has also increased from 7278 in 2015 to 12,694 in 2016.
Community Corrections sites offer WLS activities including road safety, driver licensing, cooking, health and wellbeing, education, parenting, budgeting and work skills to increase employment opportunities.
“WLS helps offenders learn skills they may not have had the chance to learn previously. This can increase their chances of getting jobs and be a key motivator for them to make positive life changes and reduce the likelihood of reoffending,” Ms Upston says.
“Offenders in employment are less likely to reoffend. Regular income and the sense of self-esteem that comes from being in work is good for offenders, their families and the communities they live in. This Government is committed to targeted social investment that makes a real difference in the lives of New Zealanders.
Examples of recent WLS projects include:
- Taitokerau Community Law delivers financial education sessions to offenders at Whangarei Community Corrections. The aim of the presentation is to ensure the offenders have a greater awareness of the true total cost of purchases from local mobile shopping trucks. This includes how much interest they will pay over the duration of the higher purchase loan contract and how these can quickly spiral out of control.
- Waikato-based offenders have completed NZTA courses to help them obtain their traffic controller registration.
- Offenders in the Taranaki District took part in a Loves Me Not workshop designed by Lesley Elliott, the mother of Sophie Elliott who was murdered in 2008. The workshop involved hands-on exercises targeting family violence in all of its forms.
- Ashburton Community Corrections has been giving cooking lessons to local offenders to help them learn basic food nutrition and cooking skills.
“It’s great to see offenders being taught skills that may help them find jobs, turn their lives around and help their whanau and communities. I am looking forward to seeing more of these projects this year,” Ms Upston says.
The justice sector will receive an extra $115 million over four years to support the rollout of more police on the beat.
Justice and Courts Minister Amy Adams and Corrections Minister Louise Upston say the additional investment supports the work already underway to prevent crime and make communities safer. The $115 million funding boost for the Ministry of Justice and Department of Corrections is part of the Government’s larger $503 million Safer Communities package announced yesterday.
“The additional 880 police and 245 non-sworn staff will help prevent crime occurring and keep New Zealanders safe but, inevitably, it will also add pressure on our courts and prisons. This extra funding will enable Justice and Corrections to support the work being done by Police,” Ms Adams says.
Included in the Justice ($51 million) and Corrections ($64 million) funding is:
- $64 million for Corrections’ rehabilitation and reintegration programmes, and more staff
- A $16 million increase in legal aid
- $21 million to support District Courts to handle more cases
- $9 million for more judges.
“This investment builds on the National-led Government’s strong focus on preventing and reducing crime, supporting victims through the criminal justice system, and holding offenders to account,” Ms Adams says.
Ms Upston says the funding will assist Corrections to appropriately manage offenders in prison and in the community as well as continue to deliver programmes that improve rehabilitation and reintegration into the community.
“With an increased prison muster, it’s important that Corrections has the resources it needs to reduce reoffending and keep communities safe. Good management of offenders, which includes equipping them with the education and skills they require to lead productive and crime-free lives is essential for them, their families and for the community.”
The package builds on the $130 million Safer Sooner family violence package (which included 66 extra police to focus on family violence). As part of a wide-ranging work programme, the Government is also better supporting victims, reducing harm and helping keep communities safe.
Conservation Minister Maggie Barry and Associate Primary Industries Minister Louise Upston say projects to help kokako in Bay of Plenty have been given more than $125,000 from the DOC Community Fund.
“Rotoehu Forest is home to 150 North Island kōkako (Callaeas wilsoni) but has the space to support at least 500 birds. Over three years, three groups will work together to carry out a combination of pest control, wilding pine removal and other weed control,” Ms Barry says.
“This will improve the natural forest habitat and local environment for these special birds.”
Kaharoa Kōkako Trust has been given $25,100 over 2016/17 for wilding pine control and improve access for contractors and visitors to an area of Kaharoa Conservation Area where there are kōkako.
“The Kaharoa kōkako population is one of the most accessible in the North Island. They are vulnerable to predators and their habitat needs tall standing trees in order for them to flourish. These organisations are doing their best to ensure kōkako have a fighting chance at survival,” Ms Upston says.
Both of these projects complement the War on Weeds and Battle for our Birds initiatives already underway.
“An extra $16m over four years was included in last year’s budget to control wilding pines as part of the War on Weeds. More than $20m also came from Budget 2016 for the Battle for our Birds to help fight back against an explosion in predator numbers caused by heavy forest seeding, or mast.”
A third community grant will help the Ngati Tahu-Ngati Whaoa Runanga Trust set up signs and interactive smart phone stations – or iPou - where people can access the story and images of Lake Ngahewa and Lake Ngapouri.
“It builds on other interpretive information projects underway in the area,” Ms Barry says.
Ms Upston made the announcements in Rotorua today.
“I’d like to thank Minister Upston for making the announcements for me today and National Rotorua MP Todd McClay for his support advocacy of conservation work in his local area.”
The funding recipients are:
- Rotoehu Ecological Trust $102,209. This project is a collaboration between Rotoehu Ecological Trust, Kaingaroa Timberlands and Ngāti Mākino Heritage Trust for pest and weed control in Rotoehu Forest where about 150 kokako live.
- Kaharoa Kōkako Trust $25,100. To clear and reform road access and control areas of wilding pines in the Kaharoa Conservation Area to improve the habitat and ecosystem where kōkako live.
- Ngati Tahu-Ngati Whaoa Runanga Trust - $8,600. Signage and IPOU at Lake Ngahewa and Lake Ngapouri, to share environmental, cultural and historical information on the two sites.
The DOC Community Fund will distribute more than $4 million in 2016/17 to organisations ranging from small community groups working across a single site to national partnerships.