Reports detailing whether prisoners have been tortured will this afternoon be released for the first time.

The documents are written every year by Crimes of Torture Act inspectors from the Ombudsman's office about prisons around the country.

Issues covered include acts of torture; the use of seclusion; whether patients or prisoners are treated with dignity; and if they have access to enough light, air and water.

The Herald requested to see the reports in April while investigating the case of Ashley Peacock, an autistic man kept in prolonged seclusion at Capital & Coast District Health Board's secure Tawhirimatea unit, whose case was also reported on under the Act.


Corrections initially refused, saying to release the reports would impact the "safety and security" of prisoners and would "prejudice the maintenance of the law".

However, the Herald complained to the Ombudsman, who intervened, and Corrections was required to release one year's worth of reports - with redactions.

The reports are expected to cover the case of a prisoner who was tied to a bed for a long period of time, among other cases.

The tie-down bed incident is now under further investigation.

The release will be the latest in ongoing Herald coverage of the use of seclusion in New Zealand, beginning with Ashley Peacock, whose case was labelled "cruel, inhuman or degrading" by the Ombudsman.

It also included other mental health sites; Child Youth and Family; and schools.

Seclusion is defined as as placing a person alone in a room or area with the door shut so that they cannot freely exit. It is supposed to be a measure only used as a last resort, and is being phased out by the health sector.