Seclusion and restraint: time for a paradigm shift

A follow up review of seclusion and restraint practices in New Zealand
First Peoples incarceration Prisoner health Solitary confinement Pasifika Prisons Residential care Children Mental health Maori New Zealand

This report was prepared by Dr Sharon Shalev, from the Centre for Criminology at the University of Oxford, at the invitation of the New Zealand Human Rights Commission.

This follow up review found women in prison were segregated at a far higher rate than men, and Māori women were segregated for longer and at a far higher rate than other women, making up 78% of all stays in the most restrictive form of segregation (‘Management units’) in 2019. The use of force and restraints remained high and, in some areas, has significantly increased since 2017.

Key findings:

  • Seclusion and restraint practices are used too often, for too long, and frequently without a clear reason by agencies.
  • Data from agencies remains fragmented and disorganised.
  • The data on the use of force and restraint provides a cause for concern across settings.

Key recommendations:

  • Reduce both the use and length of seclusion and restraint.
  • Improve material conditions and access to meaningful human contact and activities in seclusion/segregation.
  • Provide therapeutic environments for distressed individuals and seek alternatives to seclusion and restraint for them.
  • Gather good quality and comprehensive data to monitor effective implementation of these recommendations.
Publication Details
Access Rights Type: