Bye Bye Barry

The Auditor General’s report into how the Corrections Department manages is a shocker:

My staff looked at how the Department managed offenders released on parole. We chose 100 offender case files in the four areas we visited to assess whether probation officers and other staff were managing offenders in keeping with the Department’s requirements. We deliberately included 52 offenders considered to pose a high risk to the public.

In most of those 100 case files, the Department had not followed one or more of its own sentence management requirements. Five of the requirements that my staff checked are the most important, in my view, for keeping the public safe, and one or more of these five requirements had not been followed in most of the 100 cases. There were several cases, some of which I have included in my report, where the Department had not completed important sentence management requirements at each stage of an offender’s parole, and we concluded that the Department was not managing these cases adequately.

They are damning words, coming from the Auditor-General. Equally damning was the response of Minister Judith Collins:

Corrections Judith Collins today asked the State Services Commissioner to establish who is accountable for serious failings identified by the Auditor-General’s report into the management of offenders on parole. …

“I have today asked the State Services Commissioner to work with Corrections Chief Executive Barry Matthews to establish who is accountable for the deficiencies identified in the report and what should be done to restore public confidence.”

Ms Collins has asked the Commissioner to report back within 10 working days.

This is about as subtle as John Cleese. I mean you do not need to run a to guess who the State Services Commissioner will find is responsible for management failings in the Department. This must qualify as the most unsubtle ever request to SSC to remove a CEO. But not wihout considerable merit – the OAG report is damning, and the mistakes in this area do and have cost lives.

The Herald reports that Corrections CEO faces the axe:

Barry Matthews’ future as head of Corrections is in serious question, after his Judith Collins pointedly refused to express confidence in him yesterday. …

Ms Collins would say only: “I have confidence Mr Matthews understands exactly just how seriously I am viewing this issue.”

Again, you don’t exactly need a PhD in Politics to read between the lines here.

John Armstrong comments:

Wielding a calculated, but ruthless combination of raw power and tactical guile, Corrections Judith “Crusher” Collins has torn up the public service rulebook and effectively engineered the sacking of her departmental chief executive.

Technically, she cannot fire Barry Matthews, the long-suffering head of the problem-plagued Corrections Department. But “technically” is not a word in this Collins’ dictionary.


But regardless of this, Matthews’ letter should have been on the desk of State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie yesterday, so damning was the Auditor-General’s report on Corrections’ management of its responsibilities. …

The report shows the department failing to follow its own procedures in monitoring potentially dangerous prisoners on parole – procedures tightened after the murder of Lower Hutt father-of-two Karl Kuchenbecker by Graeme Burton in January 2007.

This is the scary thing. The audit was done after the Burton fiasco, and was meant to measure the new improved processes in place.

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