Corrections staff suspended over lost file ( updated)

The Corrections Department staff member who lost a sensitive confidential file last month has been suspended, chief executive Barry Matthews has revealed.

Corrections boss Barry Matthews

Corrections boss Barry Matthews

The confidential dossier which contained the names, addresses and other personal details of some of the country’s most notorious paroled criminals was found on an Auckland street by a former Corrections employee.

Mr Matthews today told Parliament’s law and order committee the staffer was not aware the file was lost until it was reported in the media.

“The individual concerned has been suspended. We’ve got an employment investigation under way and there will obviously be some sanction for that carelessness.”

The original document had been returned and the department had also moved to ensure any other copies had been destroyed or returned.

Mr Matthews said a copy had been “uplifted” with a search warrant from the office of the New Zealand Herald, while TV3 had written to the department, saying it had destroyed its copy.

The department was not aware of other copies.

Written answers to the committee’s questions show the employee is one of 25 currently suspended on full pay.

Those 25 are part of 82 employment investigations currently under way – equating to just over 1 per cent of the department’s staff.

The papers say the number is similar to previous years, with 26 staff suspended at June 30 last year. The papers do not give reasons for the suspensions.

Mr Matthews also answered questions on the confidential documents relating to the prosecution of those allegedly responsible for death of Rotorua toddler Nia Glassie, which a person claimed to have found at an Auckland dump.

The files were handed, as police are required to do under disclosure rules, to Brian Foote, lawyer for one of the accused, Oriwa Kemp.

The cardboard box, containing nearly 1000 pages of classified police material, appeared to end up at the tip after being taken out of prison by a person visiting Kemp.

They included forensic and autopsy reports, family files from Child, Youth and Family, Nia’s medical history and transcripts of interviews with Nia’s mother, Lisa Kuka.

Police are investigating how the documents ended up at the tip.

Mr Matthews said the whole sequence of events seemed strange and he had called in the department’s professional standards managers to have a look at the department’s part in the events.

“I’m suspicious they were found where they were claimed,” he said.

“I just find it hard to believe they were just tossed out in the rubbish and ended up in some rubbish bag in the tip that was just fortuitously found. I think there is a lot more to be established.”

 UPDATE: Another secret Corrections dossier found on street

The Department of Corrections is remaining tight-lipped about a second confidential document which has been found by a member of the public on the streets – just weeks after another near-identical incident.

The latest document – handed to the media after being given to the mother of an offender – contained personal details of 22 people under night curfews who were required to wear ankle bracelets.

Auckland woman Yvonne Kiel told 3 News she was handed the papers by her neighbour, who had spotted her son’s name on the list.

Corrections yesterday confirmed that the list was from the department but said there was no evidence to back up the claim it had been left in a street.

A spokesman refused to make any further comment.

Last month, a confidential dossier with the names, addresses and other details of some of the country’s most notorious paroled criminals was picked up off an Auckland street by a former Corrections Department employee. Following that, a box of confidential police documents relating to the Nia Glassie child abuse homicide was found at an East Tamaki tip.

Corrections has confirmed it is investigating the possibility a disgruntled staff member smuggled the Glassie documents out of an Auckland women’s prison.

A staff member responsible for losing the paroled offenders dossier has since been suspended but it is not clear if they were also responsible for the Nia Glassie files or the recent night-curfews list.

Corrections Minister Phil Goff had little to say about the latest incident. His spokesman said chief executive Barry Matthews was investigating the incident and would report back to the minister once that was completed.

National Party law and order spokesman Simon Power said it was time the public had answers about what was going on inside Corrections.

“It is extremely odd and very concerning that three separate incidents have occurred in such quick succession. You can’t discount the possibility now that it’s not just the public that have got a problem with confidence in the department.”


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