Review into deportation processes

Published: 20 December 2018

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) is welcoming the findings of a review into Immigration New Zealand’s (INZ) processes around deportations carried out by Mike Heron QC and will be implementing all the recommendations.

The review was commissioned in June this year by the Chief Executive, Carolyn Tremain, in the wake of two deportation decisions made by INZ compliance officers – the serving of a deportation order on Mark Middleton, the step-father of murdered schoolgirl Karla Cardno, and a woman who was deported despite making a serious criminal complaint.

A series of changes was made to  systems and controls following a detailed internal review of the two cases, including requiring higher level sign-off and checking of all deportation and detention cases.

But Ms Tremain says she felt an independent review was needed to provide assurance that the processes and procedures in INZ around deportations are appropriate and as robust as they can be.

“I am pleased that the review reiterates that the public can have confidence in our processes and procedures,” she says. “It found that compliance officers and managers engage in their decisions conscientiously and with appropriate empathy for the individuals involved. It also found they operate in a sound culture, are dedicated to their roles and operate responsibly.

“The review found that the decisions in the two cases were isolated and that there is a good team culture where it is the norm to discuss and consult colleagues or managers.”

The review found a lack of a clear and uniform system for prioritising deportation cases and called for more emphasis to be given to lower-level compliance activities with custody as a last resort. The review also found that the current Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are more useful in the early stages and as training material rather than informing day to day activities.

The review makes four recommendations and calls on INZ to:

  • Implement a system whereby cases are prioritised according to those posing the risk of greatest harm to New Zealand
  • Encourage a broader range of compliance activities, including better ongoing training and more ability for managerial supervision
  • Obtain expert advice on the appropriateness and suitability of INZ’s Standard Operating Procedures and
  • Continue to consider opportunities for voluntary compliance.

“Mike Heron has provided a very comprehensive report and as a learning organisation that is always seeking to improve its processes we recognise that we can always do better,” Ms Tremain says.  “We will be considering the report in detail but we will be implementing all of the recommendations.”

Separately, Mr Heron has begun a review of the process used by INZ to prepare files for decision-makers who make residence deportation liability decisions. The review will look at a representative sample of case files, including the Sroubek case, decided by the Minister of Immigration and delegated decision-makers.


The Independent Review MBIE: Immigration New Zealand Compliance function – Deportation and Detention activities is available [PDF, 2.3 MB]