Govt calls for better record of inmate complaints

By Moana Makapelu Lee

Minister of Corrections Kelvin Davis has condemned Corrections for not resolving data issues relating to 31 inmate complaints from 2012-2016 which claimed they were sexually abused and assaulted by prison staff.

Data issues and record keeping in regards to the number of inmate complaints upheld need to be fixed immediately, according to Davis.

"I believe it's taken some time for this issue to be resolved concerning the computer technicalities for keeping records," he says.

The information on inmates was only recently released by the Department of Corrections following an OIA request by One News in 2016.

Davis says he was not made aware of the complaints before the investigation was made public this week.

"I am disturbed that I was not informed by officials within my department on this matter earlier. That's not okay," says Davis. 

When asked if the National Party, who were in government at the time, were responsible, National Corrections Spokesperson David Bennett said in a statement to Te Kāea:

"It is up to Corrections to ensure staff working in our prisons uphold the highest standards of professionalism, and most staff do this well despite working in a very high-risk environment with the most dangerous and violent people in the country".

With regard to sexual abuse and assault claims, Davis says the health and safety of staff and inmates is a priority.

"If they wish to file a complaint they can call or submit in writing to the prison inspectorate," he says.

Te Kāea reached out the Department of Corrections who are yet to respond.