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Review of volunteers and other specified visitors released

News Release

For Immediate Release 08 November 2016


Review of volunteers and other specified visitors released


Please attribute to Chief Executive Ray Smith

On 6 July 2016 I commissioned a review of the gang connections of approved volunteers and others providing services in prisons.

This followed my being made aware that an approved kaiwhakamana, who provided voluntary services at Whanganui Prison, was an active gang member.

The review found that only two people, out of nearly 7,000 individuals providing services in prisons, were active gang members.

The review was initiated to establish whether any existing volunteers and other specified visitors were current gang members. Specified visitors include contracted providers, chaplains, researchers and others providing services into prisons.

The review also examined current approval processes for volunteers.

The review examined 6,985 specified visitors to identify any possible gang association, by using Corrections databases, Gang Intelligence Centre databases, social media and other sources. It found that 76 individuals (around 1%) had some form of current or historical gang association. An association included historical social media references to gangs or gang members.

Once this group of 76 were further analysed, it was determined that two individuals were found to have active gang membership.

One individual had not previously disclosed the extent of his active gang membership to the Department. The other individual was an associate of a gang and had a conviction for methamphetamine production.

Corrections today advised these two people that they have had their approved status to visit prison revoked.

The review also resulted in 11 recommendations to improve the robustness of the process for vetting, induction and training for external providers. The recommendations are being implemented over a three month period with the assistance of the Police.

The review identified a number of opportunities for the Department to improve the robustness of its process for vetting, induction and training for external providers.

The recommendations included that:

• The Department ensures all prison sites are 100% compliant with the Authorised Provider Prison Entry System

• The Department enhances the robustness of the current background checks

• Update the induction process for external providers

Corrections accepts that someone who has clearly distanced themselves from former gang involvement can provide appropriate support for prisoners to also desist from gangs and focus on living a crime-free lifestyle.

Current gang membership and/or active affiliation on the part of any volunteer, provider or employee is inconsistent with the Department’s obligations to protect public safety and rehabilitate offenders as gang members are disproportionately perpetrators of violence and crime both inside and outside of prisons.

The report is available on the Corrections website.

ENDS

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