Territory Stories

Annual Report 2004-2005 Ombudsman 27th Report



Annual Report 2004-2005 Ombudsman 27th Report

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Tabled paper 283


Tabled papers for 10th Assembly 2005 - 2008; Tabled papers; ParliamentNT




Tabled By Claire Martin


Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory under Standing Order 240. Where copyright subsists with a third party it remains with the original owner and permission may be required to reuse the material.




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_________________________________________________________ Ombudsmans Annual Report 2004/05 54 4. Alleged Victimisation A prisoner complained of victimisation by a group of prison officers. Various incidents were cited as examples, some of which had resulted in disciplinary charges being laid against the prisoner. Allegations of this sort are extremely difficult to prove, especially in the absence of any witnesses. Witnesses nominated by the complainant could not confirm actually having seen the incidents complained about. The treatment of prisoners has always been an area which requires special attention by this office, in view of their complete dependence on the actions and decisions of public sector employees, which makes them more vulnerable than many other groups in society to the actions of government officials. For this reason, among others, this office determined to conduct a formal investigation into the allegations. However, during the course of the investigation, which was unfortunately protracted, most of the prison officers against whom the allegations were made had departed and the prisoner was transferred to another prison. The Department initiated a review of Correctional Services and a new Director was appointed. In light of all these changes, it was decided that rather than attempting to determine the veracity of the allegations, the investigation would focus on the more general issue of what mechanisms NT Correctional Services had in place to detect, minimise and deal effectively with any incidence of victimisation of prisoners by prison officers. On reviewing the legislation, procedural requirements (including NT Correctional Services Code of Conduct) and the processes in place to oversee and reinforce the conduct of prison officers and to respond to complaints by prisoners, this office was reasonably satisfied that there was no cause for concern about the mechanisms in place for preventing, minimising and dealing with the type of misconduct by prison officers, which was the subject of the investigation. In particular it was found that the Prisoner Telephone System (PTS), introduced after this complaint was lodged, was an important mechanism for prisoners. The PTS enables prisoners to contact the Ombudsmans office at any time, free of charge and without requiring the permission of, or monitoring by, Correctional Services staff. Prisoners are thus able to complain directly to this office should they be subject to any action by prison officers that they consider to be unjustified or unreasonable. This office had no cause for concern about the adequacy of induction training for prison officers and was advised that refresher training in the expected standard of conduct of prison officers in their dealings with prisoners is planned for the future, among other topics to ensure prison officers maintain their essential knowledge base. It is also noteworthy that no complaints of a similar nature have been received by this office in recent times. Nevertheless, should any such complaints be received in the future it goes without saying that they will be treated with the utmost seriousness by this office.

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