Wednesday, May 02, 2018

How can they not track this?

One News last night had a disturbing story about allegations that Corrections officers had sexually assaulted prisoners - and that Corrections was for some reason not bothering to track these allegations:

1 NEWS can reveal that prisoners made 16 complaints of sexual abuse and 15 complaints of serious assault against Corrections staff between 2012 and 2016.

Ten prisons face allegations including Paremoremo, Christchurch Men's, Hawke's Bay Regional, Mount Eden Corrections Facility, Rimutaka, Spring Hill Corrections Facility, Tongariro, Waikeria and Whanganui. A serious assault is alleged to have taken place at a court house, which has not been identified.

1 NEWS first asked for the information in September 2016 but was declined by Corrections on the grounds that "it did not exist in a form that could be readily supplied".


1 NEWS had also asked and was again declined by Corrections for the number of allegations that progressed to an investigation, the number of complaints upheld and the number of staff subject to a complaint who are still employed.

This is exactly the sort of serious allegation that you would expect an employer with a legal duty of care towards those it imprisons to be all over. The fact that they didn't have this information readily accessible suggests that institutionally, they just don't care about it. If they did, then such allegations and how they were handled would be reported to senior managers (or to Corrections' internal prison inspectors, or to the outside jurisdiction of the Ombudsman), putting it all in one place so they could track it. Instead, there's just a vacuum, suggesting malign neglect.

Corrections needs to front up with some hard numbers showing that they are dealing with this issue properly. OTOH, now that it is on the Ombudsman's radar, I suspect they might be doing some investigation themselves.