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Swain welcomes inquiry report

Swain welcomes inquiry report

Corrections Minister Paul Swain today welcomed the release of the State Services Commissioner's report into the Corrections Department's Canterbury Emergency Response Unit (CERU).

Paul Swain said the report by Ailsa Duffy, QC, highlighted serious issues surrounding the formation of the unit in 1999, its operation and handling of investigations into it after it was disbanded in 2000.

"I asked the State Services Commissioner to conduct the inquiry because it was clear to me that there was considerable public concern about the establishment, performance and investigation of the CERU. The report is comprehensive."

The report found that there was confusion when the CERU was established whether it was temporary or permanent. It operated outside the department's systems and policies.

There were no clear management and reporting lines, monitoring was poor and accountability was lacking. Various investigations into the CERU were inadequate. Also worrying, was the report's finding that an inappropriate, militaristic culture was allowed to develop in the CERU.

"My focus is on making sure that the department has learnt from its mistakes so they are not repeated. Chief executive Mark Byers has assured me that a similar, full-time unit will not be set up by the department again."

In addition, the department has made a number of changes since 2000.These include: A new regional management structure, with regional managers reporting to the Public Prisons general manager A risk management framework with national reporting and monitoring Leadership and management development programmes for all managers New quality assurance manager roles at each prison.

"The chief executive has said that the department is reviewing the report to see if there are further matters that need to be addressed and I have instructed the department to report back to me on these matters within six months.

"Managing prisons is difficult and every day Corrections officers around the country carry out their duties professionally in often trying circumstances. It is important, however, that departmental policies and procedures are followed and I reinforced this to the chief executive.

"Hopefully this report will close this very sorry episode. Lessons have been learnt and the department can now move forward," Paul Swain said.

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