The Department of Corrections is still waiting for the return of a highly sensitive file containing names and personal details of some of the country's most notorious criminals.
Corrections chief executive Barry Matthews told Radio New Zealand he had expected the document to be returned last night, but that had not eventuated. He hoped to get it back today.
The confidential file was apparently found on an Auckland street by a member of the public, said to be a former Corrections employee.
The dossier, entitled "High Risk/High Profile Offenders -- Pending New Zealand Parole Board Hearing" includes personal details, addresses offenders are to be or have been paroled to and issues tagged as potential problems.
Offenders listed in the file include David Wayne Tamihere, awaiting parole after serving 19 years behind bars for murdering Swedish tourists Urban Hoglin and Heidi Paakkonen, and Bailey Junior Kurariki, released last month after serving nearly seven years for the manslaughter of pizza delivery man Michael Choy.
Mr Matthews said the file was used in meetings between police, Corrections, and other parties to consider issues such as accommodation and delivery of mental health services for offenders when they moved from prison into the community.
"It's confidential, it's highly sensitive, that's why it's quite serious that it's been lost," Mr Matthews said.
Police were working to retrieve the file, via an intermediary.
He said the person who had lost the file was on leave from work "very distressed" and he did not know who had found it.
"I have to say I'm concerned that if it was a former employee that they would not immediately contact us, someone in Corrections, to get the file back to us."
Inquiries were under way to establish exactly how the file was lost.
"We've got some ideas but at this stage the inquiry is still proceeding,," Mr Matthews said.
He said he was "not happy" about the situation, but still had confidence in his department.
"Unfortunately we employ humans. And they'll make mistakes and mistakes in corrections invariably have big consequences and this is one of them. And I think we've got to be careful we don't just end up with a blame culture, someone makes a mistake and everyone thinks they're going to get immediately sacked.
"The vast majority of times we deal with difficult people, difficult situations and we get it right."
Wellington lawyer John Edwards, who specialises in privacy issues, said while the people on the list may potentially have some legal remedies available to them as a result of the breach of their privacy, it was too early to consider that.
The department was not liable unless the information was published and those concerned suffered "adverse consequences".
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