Monday, February 07, 2005


Who's responsible for the BMR? Who's responsible for the illegal and inhumane imprisonment scheme which has so far cost us over a million dollars (some of which may be overturned on appeal), and may cost us millions more? Before Christmas, I asked the Department of Corrections for some answers in this area. This is what I got back.

In January 1998 a project team was convened to develop a programme within D Block at Auckland Prison designed to reduce disruptive behaviour. Following the riot at Auckland Prison in march 1998, the conceptual work undertaken by this project team was 'operationalised' as the BMR in its original form. (The regime was subject to later changes and modification).

This work was undertaken at the direction of the then Regional Manager *Auckland Prison) Kevin White (who is no longer employed by the Department).

The table below sets out the names of the project team members, their positions within the Department at that time and (where applicable) their current positions.

NamePosition as at January 1998Current Position (if applicable)
Bryan ChristyUnit ManagerSite Manager
Trevor TohillUnit ManagerUnit Manager
John DallowSenior Prison OfficerDeceased
Owen StewartSenior Prison OfficerSenior Corrections Officer
Chris BurnsSenior Prison OfficerGeneral Manager, Auckland Central Remand Prison
Thom BotterillSenior Prison OfficerNo longer employed with the Department
William ThurstonSenior Prison OfficerRetired
Tania ScrivanPsychologistNo longer employed with the Department
Gerald HomfeldSenior Prison OfficerSenior Corrections Officer
Wendy Miller-BurgeringUnit ManagerReintegration Co-ordinator
Jim van RensburgManager, Special UnitsManager, Te Piriti Special Treatment Unit (Psychological Service)

Lest anyone draw the wrong conclusion from those people who are "no longer employed with the Department", according to the response to a previous request, no Department of Corrections staff have been disciplined in any way over the BMR fiasco. And it's not as if they don't deserve it; according to another response, those named above do not seem to have even considered whether what they were doing complied with either the Penal Institutions Act 1954, the Bill of Rights Act 1990, or our obligations under various international agreements governing human rights and the conditions in prisons.

What about the people who decided which inmates were to be subjected to these cruel and inhumane conditions? Again, according to Corrections:

Since 1998, a number of managers at Auckland Prison have held an appointment as Superintendent or a Deputy Superintendent for various periods of time (which entitled them to approve the placement of an individual inmate on the BMR).

These managers are Kevin White, Bryan Christy, Kelly Puohotaua, Murray Frew and Graham Cahill... These managers have held various different positions within the Auckland Prison management structure for periods of time from 1998 to date, including the positions of Unit manager, Assistant Site Manager and Site Manager.

With the exception of Kevin White, who left the Department in April 1998, they are all still employed by the Department...

In addition to this, from 2001, Phil McCarthy, the General Manager of the Public Prisons Service, personally approved placements to the BMR.

Followup requests have been sent, and at some stage (possibly around the beginning of next month) I plan to produce a scorecard of exactly how much money each of these people has cost us. And then, maybe, we can have some accountability...


You leave out of your list the Minister of Corrections from 1999-2002 the Hon Matthew Robson. Robson was alerted to the problem of abuse in the prison early in his term as Minister during a visit from the crusading lawyer Tony Ellis. He chose to turn a blind eye as he lacked the courage to take on his senior Corrections staff.

Mike Treen
Robson's former personal secretary

Posted by Anonymous : 2/08/2005 07:29:00 PM