An investigation into unauthorised bugging at Christchurch Men’s Prison is being referred to police.
A report by Corrections is understood to have found that prison staff used covert listening devices to intercept private communications.
Corrections national commissioner Rachel Leota told the Herald the report made “extremely serious allegations that will result in employment action” as well as the referral to police.
She said prison director John Roper and two other senior staff from the prison had been on special leave since the review got under way and had not returned to work.
“A review into compliance with specific security procedures began at Christchurch Men’s Prison in May, led by the department’s director of intelligence and operations, and police were made aware of this work,” she said.
“There was no suggestion that the prison’s security had been compromised in any way.”
She thanked the staff who came forward to contribute to what was “an extremely thorough review”.
“As part of this process some staff were recently given excerpts from the review which related to them, so they could provide comment,” she said.
“The report will also be referred to police.
“We demand a high standard of conduct and integrity from all employees, and if any staff don’t meet the standards required of them then we take appropriate action.”
Superintendent John Price, Canterbury District Commander, confirmed tonight police were aware of the Corrections investigation.
“Should the information relating to this investigation be referred to police we will assess and review, then determine the next appropriate steps.”
Fairfax said a snapshot of the draft report found “clear evidence” security staff at the prison bought eight covert listening devices from October 2014 to August 2016 and used them to intercept private communications – described as a breach of the Crimes and Corrections acts and Corrections regulations.
“According to the report, 16 staff – the Site Emergency Response Team of elite guards and several dog handlers – told investigators they were instructed to use the devices by senior staff and a manager whose name is redacted,” the agency said.
“They did not consider the legality of their actions and assumed they were authorised.”
Fairfax reported that the covert operations extended to allowing prisoners access to cellphones and using covert listening devices, both of which are unauthorised in a prison.
It said the draft report found that “management of security operations was poor and in some cases unlawful”.
“The review team identified a lack of: record keeping, risk assessments, adherence to legislation, regulations, policy and procedure and a lack of accountability and oversight.”
The agency said the report also found that covert cameras were used, mainly in the area “outside the prison building perimeter and around the boundary fence”, to identify where contraband was being dropped at night.
“Legal advice showed no breach of legislation, but ‘the activity should have been better managed and higher approval sought,'” Fairfax reported.
Source : New Zealand Herald