News Item

September 2013

Research report now available on the Role of District Inspectors

The Centre for Mental Health Research at the University of Auckland has published a report on the role of District Inspectors. District Inspectors are appointed by the Minister of Health to ensure that the rights of people detained for compulsory psychiatric treatment are respected and upheld.

The report for this project, funded by New Zealand Law Foundation, was released in July 2013.

Dr Katey Thom, leader of the research team, says the report draws on historical analysis and interviews with current District Inspectors to look at how the role has developed since its inception in 1868 through to its current form under New Zealand’s Mental Health Act.

“Research suggests that the District Inspector role is unique to New Zealand” she says, “We found that overseas jurisdictions have different safeguards in place that do not statutorily require lawyers to undertake such a watchdog role.”

The role sits well with New Zealand’s efforts to implement the United Nation Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disability and meet the obligations of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture.

The report raises some issues worthy of further consideration. These include looking at how District Inspectors can be better supported in their role; formalising induction training and professional development; and promoting awareness and clarity about of the role among patients, their families, community groups and clinical staff.

Link to the research report:

Safeguarding the Rights of People Detained for Compulsory Psychiatric Treatment – the Role of the District Inspector

The New Zealand Law Foundation funded $56,901 towards research costs and report dissemination costs for this project.

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