Otago Corrections Facility slammed over CCTV cameras covering bathrooms

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Otago Correctional Institution in Milburn, near Milton. Photo/ODT

The Ombudsman has slammed the Otago Correctional Service for the “unacceptable” use of CCTV cameras in cells.

Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier said it was “totally inappropriate” for CCTV cameras to cover the prison’s showers and toilets.

“At the very least, men in the care of Otago Correctional Institution should be able to have some level of privacy,” Boshier said.

He said some of the affected prisoners were under the age of 18.

Prisoners can be seen on CCTV as they undress, shower and use the toilet.

The concerns were raised following the surprise inspections in October 2020, the release of which was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Correction received interim findings reported in May 2021.

Boshier said problems with CCTV cameras in showers and toilets were constantly being found in correctional facilities.

Concerns about the use of force in prisons, including pepper spray and record-keeping, were also raised in the report.

“It is important that New Zealand, as a signatory to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, treats prisoners to certain standards,” Bosier said.

“I look forward to seeing fewer incidents of use of force in future inspections,” he said.

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