Ripping off the taxpayers…

Corrections pays for non-existent counsellors:

Corrections is paying a private contractor for drug and alcohol counsellors that do not exist, according to a Howard League spokesman.

Mt Eden prison

Mt Eden prison Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

Care NZ is contracted by Corrections to run drug treatment programmes in eight prisons around the country and is the largest provider of such services in prisons.

According to drug and alcohol counsellor and Howard League spokesperson Roger Brooking, when Care NZ accepted the Corrections contract to run the drug units it took on more than it could handle.

“At one prison I understand there is supposed to be four full-time and one half-time person and that for most of the last couple of years there’s only been two staff there.

At another DTU (Drug Treatment Unit) there’s a similar situation.”

Care NZ chairman Michael Bird admitted that in some cases it was taking money from Corrections for counsellors it had yet to employ.

He said prisons were tough places for people to work and there was a lot of staff churn, but at present the treatment unit at Rimutaka Prison was the only one that was understaffed.

Care NZ was not making huge amounts of money by taking cash from Corrections for positions it had yet to fill, he said.

But he acknowledged its contract with the department was different to the one it held with DHB’s where it was only paid for the number of counsellors it actually employed.

Care NZ was pocketing money from the taxpayer without providing the service it was contracted to provide, Mr Brooking said.

“What it appears Care NZ does is if somebody resigns or gets fired, they move staff from one DTU to another.

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