Next step in plan to open rehab centre for violent offenders in suburban Christchurch

The proposed Bristol St site for the Department of Corrections’ contentious rehabilitation centre...
The proposed Bristol St site for the Department of Corrections’ contentious rehabilitation centre. Photo: Supplied
A hearing is being held this week over the Department of Corrections’ contentious bid to open a rehabilitation centre for violent offenders in St Albans.

The proposed site at 14 Bristol St may in future house 12 men over the age of 18 who would be taking part in a four-month rehabilitation programme.

The hearing starts today and is set to finish on Thursday, with a panel of two independent commissioners.

Among those listed on the hearing schedule are Department of Corrections representatives, Christchurch City Council staff, and specialist experts such as criminal justice expert Dr Jarrod Gilbert.

In a statement of evidence, Gilbert supported the proposal, calling it “an example of the innovative service that is much needed in a modern justice system.”

Sixteen named submitters will also be heard, as well more anonymous submitters who would be represented by others.

Alanya Limmer and law firm Chapman Tripp is representing a group that included the Bristol Street Community Network.

A statement of evidence on behalf of the network by Brett Giddens opposed the plan.

“I consider that the applicant has not demonstrated a strategic or operational need for the activity to be located in a residential zone,” Giddens stated.

Submissions on the project closed earlier this year, and were broadly unsupportive.

In June, the city council received 173 submissions against the project and 20 in favour. Many who submitted were residents who cited safety as a concern.

In response to this the Department of Corrections changed its proposal, which included reducing the maximum number of residents from 16 to 12, and increasing the maximum number of staff on-site to 14.

The resource application said residents at the facility will be intensively supervised and monitored by GPS while living there. They would be supervised on trips to places like the supermarket and CCTV cameras will be installed.

Anyone convicted of sexual offences would not be eligible for the programme.

It also did not include offenders needing specialised intervention for drug, alcohol and significant, untreated mental health issues.

 

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