6 Mar 2017

Prison inspectorate reform 'disappointing'

3:40 pm on 6 March 2017

Plans to keep the prison inspectorate inside the Corrections Department have disappointed the main union representing prison guards.

Wiri Prison - Auckland Region Women's Corrections Facility

The inspectorate will have more staff but it will not be a stand-alone entity. Photo: RNZ / Cole Eastham-Farrelly

The government announced last week it intended to give the inspectorate more staff and powers, but it would not make it a stand-alone entity.

The idea of an independent inspectorate was endorsed by the former corrections minister, Sam Lotu-Iiga, who came under fire for the fight club scandal at Mt Eden prison.

But the new minister, Louise Upston, has decided otherwise.

Instead, eight new inspectors would be appointed, and more wide-ranging powers would be given to the chief inspector.

Corrections Association president Alan Whitley said the union had been hoping for more.

"It's disappointing. I see that they're going to review the position yearly so hopefully at some point they're going to look at putting this out where we think it should be.

"But we are pleased that at least the powers that be increased and there are more people there to do the work - that's a start, but it should be something that should be totally independent of Corrections."

Mr Whitley said the union would prefer the inspectorate to be a stand-alone entity like the Independent Police Conduct Authority.