Annual Report 2004-2005 Ombudsman 27th Report
Tabled paper 283
Tabled papers for 10th Assembly 2005 - 2008; Tabled papers; ParliamentNT
Tabled By Claire Martin
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_________________________________________________________ Ombudsmans Annual Report 2004/05 52 The response received from Correctional Services was viewed by this Office as positive. Though they were of the view that the prisoner had been given ample opportunity to identify witnesses whom he claimed supported his version of events, they also acknowledged shortcomings in the letter of reply to the prisoners appeal. In this respect, they advised that the agency had taken steps to ensure in future appeals, any relevant matters raised by prisoners through the appeal process would not only be considered by the relevant officer, but also addressed in letters of response to prisoners. Upon clarification of the steps that would be taken by NT Correctional Services (regarding matters of this nature) and viewing them as not unreasonable, the prisoners legal representative was advised that this Office did not intend pursuing the matter as no further meaningful or useful outcome could be achieved in the circumstances. 2. Snail Mail A prisoner contacted this Office to complain that he was experiencing substantial delays between the time he handed his outgoing mail to the prison staff and the time that the letters were actually being posted. In this regard, the complainant advised this office that he had experienced these delays on a number of occasions, when sending both personal and legal letters and was particularly concerned about any delays as some of the letters were subject to specific time frames that needed to be adhered to. As a part of an assessment of this matter this office determined that it would be appropriate to examine the issues raised by the complainant in the context of the overall effectiveness of the prison mail system. To this extent, it was decided to conduct a physical inspection/analysis of the system with a view to firstly identifying and obtaining any and all material related to the specific issues raised by the complainant, and secondly, to determine whether it would be feasible, and/or possible, to conduct an audit of the system to ascertain whether or not the concerns raised by the complainant were indicative of broader systemic issues. Following preliminary inquiries, which included the inspection and subsequent evaluation of the mailing system and a review of the documented policies and procedures, this office determined that there was insufficient evidence/information available to resolve the complainants issue of complaint, nor was there sufficient information on which to base a meaningful/useful audit of the mailing system. In this respect, whilst not being critical of or suggesting that there were any evident problems with the system, this office came to the conclusion that a few minor improvements to the processes in the mailing system might result in a substantial increase to the transparency and accountability of the system and additionally create the ability to conduct meaningful and useful audits of the system. As a result of these conclusions, the Director of NT Correctional Services acknowledged that there was a need for all administrative processes within NT Correctional Services to be as transparent and accountable as possible. As such, an additional step being that the mail is now date stamped on the day it is received by the prison and on the day that it
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