Joanne HARRISON - 06/12/2018

Parole Hearing

Under section 21(2) of the Parole Act 2002


Hearing: 6 December 2018

at Auckland Region Women’s Corrections Facility

via AVL from Arohata Prison

Members of the Board:

  • Ms K Snook
  • Ms S Driver
  • Mr S Perry


  • Ms L Smith


  1. Joanne Harrison, 52, appeared for the further consideration of parole in relation to a sentence of three years seven months’ imprisonment for fraudulently using documents for pecuniary advantage.
  2. Ms Harrison is on a low/medium prison security classification, has a RoC*RoI of 0.06336, and a sentence expiry date of 4 March 2020.
  3. Ms Harrison is back before the Board earlier than previously scheduled by the Board that saw her last on 26 February 2018.  That Board scheduled her for a hearing in February 2019.
  4. Ms Harrison applied for and was granted an earlier hearing under section 26 of the Parole Act 2002 on the ground that she has now been served with a deportation notice.  Ms Harrison is not appealing that notice. At the end of her sentence she will be deported back to the United Kingdom to reside with [withheld].
  5. As a result of the deportation notice Ms Harrison lost the reintegration pathway that she had been on.  Due to her status as a deportee, her security classification has been increased and she is not able to reside in self-care and is no longer eligible for Release to Work.
  6. Ms Smith appeared today for Ms Harrison.  She made realistic submissions regarding Ms Harrison's position.  In support of a release on parole for deportation back to the United Kingdom, Ms Smith referred to the extensive counselling that Ms Harrison has been undertaking. She has been having individual counselling sessions since December 2016 and has undertaken over 42 sessions.  Ms Harrison told the Board that in addition to one-to-one work she has also participated in workshops with six to eight others.  The work has included trauma counselling as well as neuropsychological work to address faulty thinking.
  7. Ms Harrison told the Board that she has benefited greatly from this work.  Ms Smith described the intensive work that Ms Harrison has completed as requiring her to strip herself bare and rebuild herself.
  8. Ms Harrison does not underestimate the challenges that she will face when she returns to the community.  However she sees herself as now being in the strongest position possible to return to the United Kingdom to live with the support to be provided by [withheld] and to begin a new life for herself.
  9. We talked to Ms Harrison about the risks that she will face back in the United Kingdom and her ongoing risk to the community.  She said that initially she will be supported financially by [withheld].  She plans to investigate retraining in the nutritionist or mindfulness field.  She said she has never offended in a fraudulent way in the United Kingdom and has no convictions there.  She said she began thinking of fraudulent offending while residing there but did not offend.
  10. We also talked to Ms Harrison about her relationship with her parents.  It is clear from the psychological assessment that there have been issues particularly with Ms Harrison's relationship with her mother.  Ms Harrison said that the work she has completed, as well as the counselling her parents have undertaken, has enabled both sides to gain perspective on this. She sees their relationship as much stronger now.  She said she writes to her parents every week and they speak every fortnight.  The plan is that when Ms Harrison returns to England she will undertake counselling there.  This will also involve her parents. When [withheld] returns to England in the middle of next year he will also participate in that counselling.
  11. The Board has residual concern in relation to Ms Harrison.  We note that the deportation notice refers to allegations that Ms Harrison fraudulently created material to obtain her New Zealand visa in March 2006 in the skilled migrant category.
  12. Ms Harrison said today that she did misstate her previous role in her employment in the United Kingdom.  She also said that the letters of support were from real people and were real letters but they had not gone through the correct authorisations to provide those letters for her.  In relation to reference in the material to an outstanding warrant in Australia for offending Ms Harrison said again that she has no idea what that relates to.  She says that all of her offending has occurred in New Zealand.  Ms Smith told Board that various legal counsel have been investigating the possible Australian warrant but at this stage they are not aware what that offending relates to or whether any further action will be taken by the Australian authorities.
  13. Despite having used several different names to commit her fraudulent activities, Ms Harrison told Board she plans to use the name Joanne Harrison when she returns to the United Kingdom.  She said that there is an awareness of her offending in the area to which she will be returning because the New Zealand media reports reached that location as well.
  14. Clearly given the extensive fraud perpetrated by Ms Harrison in New Zealand, risk remains in relation to Ms Harrison.  However taking all of the material we have before us into account we are satisfied that she would not pose an undue risk to the safety of the community in the United Kingdom for the period remaining on her sentence (just over a year).   She has completed extensive counselling in prison as well as the Short Rehabilitation Programme (SRP).  She has informed support and supervision available to her in the United Kingdom, and she plans to undertake additional counselling there.
  15. Given the time that it will take to organise Ms Harrison's deportation she will be released on [withheld] January 2019 on the standard conditions.  Those standard conditions will be suspended given that she will be immediately deported from New Zealand.
  16. Ms Harrison will then be subject to the special conditions set out below.  Those conditions will apply until her statutory release date of 4 March 2020.
  17. The special conditions are:

    (1) To be released into the custody of the New Zealand Immigration authorities, or to the New Zealand Police, for deportation from New Zealand.

    (2) Not to return to New Zealand.

Ms K Snook
Panel Convenor