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PM's Support for independent prison investigator

2 February 2005

Greens welcome PM's support for independent prison investigator

Green MP Nandor Tanczos will be taking up the Prime Minister's invitation, made in the House this afternoon, to discuss the setting up of an independent prison inspectorate with Justice Minister Phil Goff and Corrections Minister Paul Swain.

"The Prime Minister has publicly given support to looking at an independent prison inspectorate. I look forward to working with Phil Goff and Paul Swain to make it happen" said Nandor, the Green Party's Justice and Corrections Spokesperson.

"Prisoner complaints to the Ombudsman are up 20 per cent since 2000. This is a good indication that the current system is not working well. The Government's Prisoner Compensation Bill makes this even more worrying, since it denies prisoners access to the courts until all internal channels have been exhausted."

Nandor said an Independent Prison Inspectorate (IPI) could be combined with the proposed Independent Police Complaints Authority (IPCA). The Government's Independent Police Complaints Authority Bill is stalled in Parliament while the Royal Commission into Police rape allegations is completed. Nandor said that this delay provides an opportunity to do the policy work necessary to combine the two proposals.

"A Prisons Inspectorate could easily be combined with the office of an Independent Police Complaints Authority. Both prison officers and the police have statutory powers to use force and both have a history of closing ranks when under investigation. It makes sense to look at combining the complaints processes.

"Such a combined body, which would be funded through the Ministry of Justice, could create the needed critical mass of investigation expertise outside the ranks of ex-police officers. It would also be demonstrably independent with both the IPI and the IPCA appointed by Parliament," said Nandor.


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