28 Jul 2016

Apology after victim receives wrong files

7:17 am on 28 July 2016

The Parole Board is under fire for mistakenly sending paperwork to a registered victim about an unrelated case.

The view from Auckland Prison.

Photo: RNZ

The recipient, who has name suppression, was awaiting a separate parole ruling on the man who raped her in Porirua in 2004.

But, in addition, she was given extra paperwork on a transgender inmate who is not related to her case.

"I was really disappointed because if my information was sent to somebody else, and I knew about that, I would be extremely upset. Even if my name isn't on it, it doesn't matter - I would be extremely upset because it goes into a lot of personal detail," she said.

The recipient said the board was guilty of cavalier handling of information.

Speaking from Australia, she said the mix-up had left her on edge.

"I couldn't believe what I was reading, like, I was just shocked. Then I got really paranoid, I panicked and I was thinking what if there's another Australian that's been sent my stuff?"

The Parole Board apologised to the woman via email, blaming human error for the slip-up.

In a statement to RNZ, the board said it regretted the incident and always aimed to uphold privacy requirements.

"Essentially an offender in a prison had their hearing outcome sent in error to a registered victim of another offender as the result of an internal mistake.

"No victim information was released and victim information is not part of Parole Board hearing reports, so is not distributed in any way. Board administration has apologised and asked for the information to be returned."

Privacy Commissioner John Edwards said the recipient's concerns were real.

"It's obviously shaken the faith that this person has in the Parole Board's ability to look after her very sensitive information. I would hope there's no reason for that faith to be shaken, but in any case I would expect the Parole Board to be having a look at its systems and providing some reassurance to that person."

Mr Edwards says the Parole Board must now reflect on its processes to minimise the chances of administrative errors creeping in.

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