TAYLOR - Arthur William - 09/11/2016
Under section 21(1) of the Parole Act 2002
Arthur William TAYLOR
Hearing: 9 November 2016 at [Withheld]
Members of the Board:
- Judge D Mather – Panel Convenor
- Ms G Hughes
- Mr R Crotty
DECISION OF THE BOARD
1. Mr Taylor is serving a composite sentence of a total of 17 years six months. This essentially comprises firearms and other offences in 2007 (eight years), escaping and kidnapping in 2005 (four years) and methamphetamine dealing in 2007 (five years six months). His sentence end date is 12 October 2022.
2. He is currently low/medium security classification and has a RoC*RoI of 0.77585.
3. The last Board hearing on 11 August 2016 adjourned consideration of parole to this hearing. That was so that an updated psychological risk assessment could be provided. It was anticipated by the Board then, in line with the recommendation from Justice Ellis in the recent judicial review proceedings that Mr Taylor’s treating psychologist [Withheld] would carry out that further risk assessment.
4. On 29 September 2016 Psychological Services advised that the 12 week timeframe allowed for the preparation of that report was insufficient and the request for that report was declined. The Board also received communications from Psychological Services to the effect that neither [Withheld] nor Mr Taylor’s other treating psychologist, [Withheld] was, as a result of their role in treatment with Mr Taylor, able to carry out the further risk assessment.
5. The hearing proceeded on the basis that Mr Taylor sought release on parole notwithstanding the absence of that further risk assessment report.
6. Mr Taylor filed a number of substantial documents with the Board for the purposes of this hearing. These included:
(a) A release plan dated 8 November 2016 which included a relapse prevention plan, post-release timetable, risk factors and early warning signs.
(b) A letter of support from [Withheld] dated 9 August 2016 (incorrectly 2017).
(c) An affidavit signed by him on 2 November 2016 from unrelated High Court proceedings Arbuckle v Hunter in which he articulates in particular his grievances with the Department of Corrections.
(d) A letter dated 6 October 2016 in response to the recent parole assessment report.
(e) A letter from [Withheld] at [Withheld] offering him research work.
(f) Submissions dated 9 November 2016.
7. It is significant to note that the treatment report from [Withheld] dated July 2015 was not provided to the Board until it was produced at this hearing. Mr Taylor had assumed that it would be available but, as a treatment report, its release requires the offender’s consent. That had not been formally given.
8. The thrust of Mr Taylor’s submission, which he articulated well, is that notwithstanding previous recommendations that he should undertake the STURP, the Board can be satisfied on the basis of other factors, including his having undertaken extensive psychological treatment with Drs [Withheld] and [Withheld] and his comprehensive release plan, that undue risk would not be presented if he were to be released now. In effect, he is asking the Board to carry out its own risk assessment, without the further psychological risk assessment, and on that basis find that the criteria for his release on parole at this time are met.
9. He acknowledged that in his treatment report of [Withheld] 2015 [Withheld] clearly indicated that Mr Taylor should undertake the STURP. While Mr Taylor relies upon a number of other observations by [Withheld] in that report, we have no psychological evidence or assessment of risk since that report.
10. Mr Taylor has had several opportunities since early 2015 to enter the STURP. Two programmes were offered to him in April and September 2015. However, he was first required to transition to another unit which he was unwilling to do. He has since been vindicated by the High Court in his contention that this precondition to him doing the STURP was an irrelevant consideration.
11. While waiting for the High Court decision an opportunity arose for him to enter the STURP in July this year. He declined that because he did not want to compromise the outcome of the pending High Court decision.
12. The next STURP intake available to him is in February 2017. We asked him whether, if the further risk assessment report to be obtained recommended this, he would then agree to undertake that programme. He said he would, provided that he was satisfied that the report was robust. He also questioned the benefit to him of attending that programme.
13. For this further hearing the Department of Corrections filed a specific addendum parole assessment report. That confirms that neither [Withheld] nor [Withheld] was able to provide an updated risk assessment report, but that the Chief Psychologist was to assign an independent psychologist “to complete the appraisal of Mr Taylor’s rehabilitative needs”.
14. This report went on to address accommodation, employment and family/community support issues related to Mr Taylor’s prospective release on parole.
15. At this hearing the Board was presented with a further memorandum from the Department’s principal psychologist at the North Auckland Psychologists’ office, [Withheld]. This noted the opinions expressed by a psychological assessment in April 2014, as well as Dr Wilson’s more recent comments, that supported Mr Taylor engaging in the STURP, and that the next such programme is available in February 2017.
16. In relation to the undertaking of a further psychological risk assessment of Mr Taylor, [Withheld] advises that another psychologist has been identified who is able to undertake the assessment for that report commencing in the week of 14 November. This would “explore treatment gains from individual treatment and responsiveness to engagement in this aspect of the proposed treatment pathway”. Such a report would inform the approach to be taken both by the Department and the Board. [Withheld] advises this updated risk assessment report could be made available to the Board by December 2016.
17. [Withheld] attended this hearing in support of Mr Taylor and confirmed the potential research role offered to Mr Taylor and noted his intention to undertake [Withheld] study as well. His [Withheld] also attended the hearing and spoke on behalf of Mr Taylor. She offers accommodation options for Mr Taylor, either at [Withheld] (which has already been assessed as suitable) or at a home in [Withheld] which she would be prepared to obtain specifically for Mr Taylor if he were to be released in Auckland. [Withheld] also offered interesting observations, from her own background in rehabilitation programmes, as to [Withheld]’s expertise and the benefits` of counselling with him in contrast to what is offered through prison-based programmes such as the STURP.
18. Mr Taylor’s frustration over delays beyond his control in progressing the proposed psychological risk assessment report is understandable. He and [Withheld] rely on what they consider to be an obstructive and unreasonable approach to Mr Taylor’s reasonable expectations of the Corrections’ system, in support of his application for release at this point. However we must maintain our focus on the statutory test for release on parole.
19. As Mr Taylor well knows, the Board cannot release an offender on parole unless satisfied on reasonable grounds that the offender, if released on parole, will not pose an undue risk to the safety of the community, having regard to the support and supervision available to the offender and the public interest in the reintegration of the offender into society as a law-abiding citizen.
20. Mr Taylor may, as he argues with the support of [Withheld]’s treatment report, have made significant gains in the course of that treatment. He has also put much effort into the development of a release plan and, as the Department acknowledges, has significant community support. His accommodation proposals need further refinement. His future treatment needs may have changed as the result of his counselling with [Withheld] and risk issues might have been impacted by other relevant developments which Mr Taylor articulates with some cogency in his recent submissions.
21. However, a robust risk assessment of an offender with Mr Taylor’s offending background and previously assessed high and complex needs is a skilled professional responsibility. From what Mr Taylor has submitted in writing, and from comments made at this hearing, it appears that he understands the importance of the Board having that updated risk assessment from a psychologist. Until the Board has that assessment it cannot be satisfied as to risk so that the test for release on parole set out in section 28 of the Parole Act 2002 is met.
22. For those reasons, parole is declined. On the basis that the Department will have the further psychological assessment report available by the end of December 2016, we direct Mr Taylor’s further appearance before the Parole Board in March 2017, and in any event no later than 31 March 2017.
23. If he elects to commence the STURP in February then another hearing to consider parole is likely to be required after completion of the STURP. On the other hand, if Mr Taylor chooses not to go down that track, the position can be reviewed by the Board in March.
24. We note that this was explained at the conclusion of the hearing to Mr Taylor who appeared to accept it as a reasonable and realistic outcome.
Judge D Mather