05 March 2021
[FYI request #14211 email]
Tēnā koe Mark
Thank you for your email of 27 November 2020, requesting information about the
number of people in prison who have current or previous convictions for sexual
offences and are double bunked. Your request has been considered under the
Official Information Act 1982 (OIA). I apologise for the delay and thank you for your
Corrections takes its duty of managing people in prison safely extremely seriously.
Double bunking has been a long-standing practice in New Zealand and
internationally, and Corrections has a range of policies, processes and tools in place
to identify and mitigate concerns about safety when placing a person in a shared
Corrections staff use a comprehensive assessment tool called the Shared
Accommodation Cell Risk Assessment (SACRA) to review the compatibility of
prisoners before they are placed in a shared cell. This tool does not replace staff
judgement but helps to inform their decision-making and minimise any potential risk.
The SACRA tool identifies key risk factors to consider before placing a person in a
shared cell. The assessment captures a range of information about the person,
including their age, security classification, offending history, history of imprisonment,
gang affiliation, notable physical characteristics, mental health concerns and any
other special needs.
A copy of the SACRA compatibility guidelines is available on our website at
While previous convictions are considered during the assessment process, there are
a multitude of factors that are relevant, and a sexual conviction does not necessarily
preclude a person from being double bunked. However, staff are directed to consider
sexual predation when considering suitability to double bunk. An individual who
poses an identifiable threat to another will not be double bunked. If a person is
deemed not suitable to share a cell (with any other person), a Not to Double Bunk
(NTDB) alert is placed on their electronic file.
There are a variety of ways in which a person in prison can notify staff of a potential
safety risk while in custody. When in their cell, an individual can use an intercom to
alert staff. Individuals are also encouraged to report any concerns directly to staff.
They can also raise concerns via a family member or friend, or by contacting an
Inspector, the Office of the Ombudsman or the anonymous crime reporting line
When an allegation of assault is made by a person in prison, we act immediately to
ensure the victim is supported and that appropriate action is taken. The victim may
be provided support by Health Services staff, a chaplain or other spiritual support
person, a kaiwhakamana or other cultural support person, or senior staff. People
who commit assault are held to account, such as through the misconduct system, a
change in security classification or a referral to Police for prosecution. We work
closely with Police to ensure they have access to information or evidence that may
assist any criminal investigation.
The number of prisoners currently kept in double-bunked cells who
1) Are serving a sentence for a conviction of a sexual offence
2) Have one or more historical convictions for a sexual offence
3) Have either current or historical convictions for a sexual offence
A sexual offence is any offence included in division 03 of the Australia and New
Zealand Standard Offence Classification 2011, accessible at:
The same definition of a sexual offence has been used to enable comparisons with
Corrections’ response to you in November 2017 (ref C88400).
As at 30 November 2020, 464 people had current or previous convictions for sexual
offence(s) and were sharing a cell in a New Zealand prison.
Please find attached as Appendix One, the information requested. For context, the
total prison population as at 30 November 2020 was 8,784.
When reviewing the data note that a small number of the individuals have both a
conviction for a sexual offence in relation to their current sentence and a historic
conviction for a sexual offence. For this reason, some people are counted more than
once and the sum of these groups is greater than the total number of individuals ever
convicted of a sexual offence and double bunked.
I trust the information provided is of assistance. Should you have any concerns with
this response, I would encourage you to raise them with Corrections. Alternatively,
you are advised of your right to also raise any concerns with the Office of the
Ombudsman. Contact details are: Office of the Ombudsman, PO Box 10152,
Acting National Commissioner