NEW ZEALAND
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Auckland Central Remand Prison
Serco (formerly run by Geo Group)

September 19, 2012 Radio New Zealand News
A first-year report card for the Mt Eden private prison has shown it continues to fall well short on several performance measures. British firm Serco has a $300 million contract with the Government to run the Auckland jail for at least six years. A report for the year to July shows only 42% of Serco's prisoners had a management plan in place, when 90% or more is the benchmark. The company only did a six-month review of those prisoner plans in 60% of cases, when 98% was the target. Just 52% of prisoners were released as per their release plan, when the required level was 98%, and Serco only followed its incident notification process three-quarters of the time. For its part, Serco says it is returning the lowest positive drug test rates of any prison in New Zealand, as well as maintaining low levels of self-harm and serious assaults. Results for the month of August show Serco is meeting 34 of its 37 performance targets, and achieving above 90% compliance with its contract. Corrections Minister Anne Tolley says it is an extremely tough contract, but Serco is making good progress and expects that to continue.

September 28, 2009 NZCity
Further doubt is being cast on the claimed efficiency of privately run prisons. The Green Party's pointing to evidence presented during Selected Committee hearings on private prisons legislation about the historical cost of the Auckland Remand Prison when it was in private hands. The Greens say it shows the cost per prisoner was over $57 thousand a year compared to around $50 thousand in the public system. The party says it proves there can be no justification for claims private prisons are cheaper than public ones. Meanwhile, special monitors are being proposed as part of the oversight for privately run prisons. Parliament's Law and Order Select Committee has reported back on the private prisons bill and is recommending additional checks and balances be put in place. It advises special monitors employed by the Department of Corrections be given free and unfettered access to the facilities to ensure proper standards are met. The Committee also recommends all private prison operators be required to comply with instructions from the Chief Executive of the Corrections Department.

July 31, 2009 Radio New Zealand
ACT MP David Garrett says he does not believe he intimidated two submitters to Parliament's law and order select committee, as alleged by the Labour Party. Labour Party MP Clayton Cosgrove believes Mr Garrett breached parliamentary privilege when he told two prison guards their submission would stop them from getting a job in a privately run prison. He says Mr Garrett's behaviour was shameful, and brought the select committee process into disrepute. Mr Cosgrove says the guards had experience working under private prison management and were providing expert opinions. Corrections Minister Judith Collins has also weighed in, saying the comments were totally inappropriate. But Mr Garrett says it was never his intention to intimidate, and he is looking forward to responding to Labour's complaint. Speaker of the House Lockwood Smith will decide whether to refer the matter to Parliament's privileges committee.

July 29, 2009 3 News
An MP from government confidence and supply party ACT today told prison officers who spoke out against private prisons that they had hurt their future job prospects. David Garrett's remark came hot on the heals of accusations yesterday that the Government attempted to intimidate and silence people. Those claims were sparked by Social Development Minister Paula Bennett releasing benefit details of two women who criticised a government decision to cut a training allowance. Today a group of prison officers, representing 30 officers who had previously worked for a privately run prison, made a submission to Parliament's law and order select committee which is considering legislation to enable private operators to run prisons. After Bart Birch, Uaea Leavasa and Satish Prasad criticised how Auckland Central Remand Prison was run under private contractor GEO Ltd between 2000 and 2005, Mr Garrett weighed in. "You say that you don't want to go back to working in this environment - to the private (sector). You'd be aware that given your submission here, you wouldn't get offered a job anyway, would you?" Other MPs on the committee were visibly disturbed by the remark and National's Shane Ardern was quick to reassure the men they should feel free to speak their minds before a committee of Parliament. "Can I say from my own party you can sit here without fear or favour," he said. Acting chairman on the committee Labour MP Clayton Cosgrove added his support for Mr Ardern's remark. Corrections Association of New Zealand president Beven Hanlon told NZPA he thought the remark out of line. The union already had concerns about Mr Garrett's involvement in the Sensible Sentencing Trust which advocates for tougher and longer sentencing. "All the things that private prisons advocate for," he said. "For him to then threaten staff over (their) future employment is a great concern." Mr Cosgrove described the comment as "Bennett mark two". "(People) should be able to come to a select committee without fear or favour to give their view." Mr Garrett's tone had been badgering and he carried that style on when other submitters made presentations, Mr Cosgrove said. "I think he needs to learn that we live in a democracy and in a democracy ... you're allowed to have a view and we should (give) people the respect of actually listening. "But he's behaving like a bully and I guess it is Paula Bennett mark two." Mr Garrett stood by his comment when questioned by media. "They were quite clearly extremely negative about the private prison managing company. It would seem to be most unlikely they would get a job with that company." He agreed the select committee process should be open and MPs should not stymie free exchange but did not think he had affected that. "They have the right to say whatever they like ... I didn't see I was stymying free debate at all." Asked why he felt compelled to talk about the officers' job prospects rather than ask questions about the bill, Mr Garrett said their motives were relevant and he had no regrets. "It was certainly no attempt to stifle the debate." Mr Garrett walked away when NZPA asked him to comment on the union view it was a threatening remark. In their submission, the officers said they had worked both for GEO and the Corrections Department. Under private management the focus was on protecting the company's reputation. They said under GEO staff were told to resign rather than have negligence revealed, an incident where a woman allegedly helped a relative escape was not investigated, and systems were not robust in areas like drug control and suicide. Another complaint was that GEO paid less for local workers and used contractors from Australia to fill gaps who were on salaries as much as $30,000 higher. Those contractors appeared unaware of cultural issues for Maori and Pacific inmates. Other casual workers were used and had lower levels of training and experience than full time staff who were not familiar with the prison, which raised risk levels.

July 1, 2009 The National Business Review
The State should be responsible for prisoners not private companies, the Human Rights Commission said today. Chief Human Rights Commissioner Rosslyn Noonan appeared before Parliament's law and order select committee which is considering the Corrections (Contract Management of Prisons Amendment) Bill. Senior managers from private prison company GEO Group were present and heard groups condemn their business. The firm ran Auckland Central Remand Prison (ACRP) for five years until Labour won the 1999 election and refused to renew its contract. Ms Noonan said protecting the rights of detainees was a key function of government and should not be contracted out. "The management of prisons involves the exercise of some of the state's most coercive powers against individuals," the commission's submission said. "There should be direct accountability for the exercise of such powers. A government department directly accountable to a minister provides the clearest accountability." If the bill was to go ahead the commission wanted its monitoring measures beefed up. Recommendations included protecting staff from being sacked if they gave information to monitors and permitting prisoners to complain directly to monitors. Also prisons should be required to comply with international conventions around torture. Ms Noonan said early intervention would make the biggest difference. She called for willingness across parties not to make political capital out of the issue. Catholic organisation Caritas was concerned problems in the United States' private prisons -- such as beatings, rapes, suicides and other deaths in custody -- would be repeated here. It noted that in the US the same people running private prisons were also involved in lobbying government for longer sentences. GEO Group Australia managing director Pieter Bezuidenhout said his company had managed prisons in Australia for 17 years, operating in Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales.

July 19, 2006 NewstalkZB
The Government has no plans to privatise prisons. United Future leader Peter Dunne has asked about the Government's plans for prisons following a Treasury report revealing each inmate costs $77,000 a year to be cared for. The report recommends competition for prison services be introduced. Corrections Minister Damien O'Connor is ruling out privatisation. He says it is $10,000 a year cheaper to keep inmates in public prisons than the private Auckland Central Remand Prison.

July 19, 2005 Stuff
An inmate in Auckland's former private prison who stowed away in a shipping container to depart New Zealand should be sent back here to face rape charges, says a Fiji court.  The Suva Magistrate's Court recommended that Shumendra Nilesh Chandra, 30, a computer operator, of Auckland be sent back to New Zealand. Australasian Correctional Management, which managed Auckland Central Remand Prison until its contract expired recently, had to pay the Government $50,000 for the escape, under the terms of its contract.  The company said at the time that its investigation into how Chandra allegedly slipped his handcuffs and fled guards was unable to find out how he did it.

July 12, 2005 Scoop
The GEO Group, holders of the private management contract for the Auckland Central Remand Prison, said today that although they were extremely disappointed that the contract had come to a close they would like to thank all of those people who have supported them during their time in New Zealand.  The contract ends at midnight on July 12.

September 18, 2003
A leading lawyer says the Government's Corrections Bill will significantly reduce Maori participation in the areas of prison management and operations.  The attached opinion from Jack Hodder of Chapman Tripp says that handing an exclusive monopoly to the public prison service to manage all prisons "will leave only a peripheral role for Maori service providers in relation to prison management and operations".  The opinion was commissioned by Iwi Whanui O Tamaki Makaurau, an advisory board representing six northern iwi in a formal partnership with Auckland Central Remand Prison (ACRP), New Zealand's only privately managed prison.  "Maori were involved in selecting the current management provider and have formed a partnership with the prison management in which Maori are involved in all areas of the prison, including the development of all programmes and processes.  (Scoop)

April 28, 2003
Acting Corrections Minister Margaret Wilson acknowledges the three-year consultation period on the Corrections Bill did not cover privately-run prisons.  Now the bill is before the law and order select committee.  However, the public has until August 21 to comment.  "The government has no argument with how ACM (Australasian Correctional Management) has managed the prison.  The government's view is that the management of prisons is a core activity of the state, involving the use of highly coercive powers against individuals, and that it is inappropriate for private sector organizations to exercise such powers," she says.  (Sunday Star Times)

March 7, 2003
The Government will phase out the private management of prisons.  Introducing a bill yesterday to overhaul the way jails are run, Acting Corrections Minister Margaret Wilson said managing prisons was a "core activity of the state".  The change will take effect from July 12, 2005, when the sole contract to run a prison, held by Australasian Correctional Management, expires for the Auckland Central Remand Prison.  "Prisons by their very nature involve the use of highly coercive powers against individuals," said Ms Wilson.  "The Government believes that it is inappropriate for private-sector organisations to wield such power."  Prison general manager Dom Karauria said he was extremely disappointed.  The company had planned to submit tenders to run one or two of the new prisons being built round the country, but would now focus on gaining contracts to provide health services in jail.  "Whilst this is disappointing for us, it doesn't mean the end of ACM in New Zealand."  (The New Zealand Herald)

Auckland South Corrections Facility
Jun 24, 2016 odt.co.nz
Violent man freed after Serco blunder
A man facing a serious violence charge was mistakenly released from a Serco-run prison, the Weekend Herald has learned. The embattled private prison operator, which last year lost its contract to run Auckland's Mt Eden prison, has now been penalised more than $19,000 for the wrongful release. Joshua Calthorpe had been due to finish a prison sentence at Auckland South Corrections Facility in Wiri in April. But he was still to be dealt with on charges of aggravated robbery, blackmail and obtaining by deception, and should have been transferred from Auckland South Corrections Facility - operated by Serco - to a remand cell until that offending was dealt with. Instead he was released and spent two weeks at large before police returned him to custody, a source told the Weekend Herald. Calthorpe was yesterday sentenced to almost six years behind bars for the aggravated robbery and blackmail charges, and will also serve a shorter sentence concurrently for the obtaining by deception charges. He has previously spent time on the run from police in 2012 and last year, after failing to appear in court. A Serco New Zealand spokeswoman confirmed yesterday a prisoner had been "wrongly released" in April. "He had completed his sentence, but faced new charges and should have been detained on remand. We alerted the police as soon as the error became known and he was subsequently returned to custody." The spokeswoman said ensuring public safety was Serco's first priority. "We undertook a review of the event, to identify how it occurred and prevent such an incident occurring again." Justice Minister Judith Collins said Calthorpe's release was "not acceptable". She said Corrections had penalised SecureFuture - the consortium that owns the Serco-run Wiri prison - $19,581.59 for the wrongful release. Labour's Corrections spokesman Kelvin Davis said Serco needed to "get its act together".

Christmas Island detention centre

Nov 9, 2015 tvnz.co.nz
A Kiwi being held at the Christmas Island detention centre says "there are fires everywhere" and "no security", after riots erupted following the death of a detainee.

Speaking to ONE News this morning, Ricky Downs said guards have abandoned the centre.

"There are fires everywhere, holes in the wall and the canteen has been smashed to pieces," he said. "There's not security, there's no response team, there's not border control, no guards. They've freaked out and left." New Zealand nationals detained on Christmas Island's detention centre are being blamed for a riot which broke out at the centre this morning. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said there are 40 New Zealanders reportedly on Christmas Island. Christmas Island detention centre riot is ‘going off’. Guards have reportedly abandoned the controversial centre following mass riots. Guards have reportedly abandoned the controversial centre following mass riots. A detainee speaking to SBS made the accusations this morning claiming the rioters were mainly Kiwis and they had left the centre looking like a "disaster zone". The man, who wasn't named in the article, alleged guards from the private prison operator Serco had abandoned the centre. The medical centre had been destroyed along with the canteen and some offices, the man said. "The place is a disaster zone," he said. "People are destroying everything that can be destroyed." Australia's Department of Immigration and Border Protection has confirmed a "disturbance" happened at the Christmas Island detention centre. The Department wouldn't go into details about how the disturbance began or if detainees have sparked a riot at the detention centre as reported this morning. Earlier today, a woman close to a detainee said the riots began after prisoners learned of the death of a refugee who escaped the detention centre two days ago. The Kurdish-Iranian man in his 30s was found in bush land yesterday. ‘They freaked out and left’ – Christmas Island guards reportedly abandon detention centre 00:20 Kiwi detainee on Christmas Island Ricky Downs says a mass riot has broken out at the centre. Kiwi detainee on Christmas Island Ricky Downs says a mass riot has broken out at the centre. Source: ONE News ONE News also spoke with Labour MP Kelvin Davis this morning who says the island prison is in chaos. Kelvin Davis@NgatiBird Just got off the phone to detainees. They're scared they'll be shot. #freethe501s Christmas Island: "The guards have disappeared. We can't see them." The calm before the storm? #freethe501s Mr Davis says from what he is hearing, when prisoners questioned the death of an inmate who tried to escape the facility, one person was punched in the face by a guard sparking the riot. The Department says "its service providers are working together to resolve the situation". They say no injures have been reported and won't give any further comment on the situation.

Mount Eden Prison

Mount Eden, New Zealand
Serco
Dec 13, 2016 stuff.co.nz
Mt Eden former director says he was told to 'reduce the noise' over fight club allegations video
On the eve of the US election, while the world and the world's media were captivated by the race for the White House, Corrections released a public version of a report into the Mt Eden fight club scandal. By then, the fallout from the scandal had claimed heads - the director of Serco-run Mt Eden Prison, Gareth Sands, lost his job and the corrections minister was dumped. Serco, a British outsourcing company run by the grandson of Winston Churchill, lost the contract. As past of the six-part Stuff Circuit documentary series on prisons, Private Business, Public Failure, Sands has spoken out for the first time. The emergence of organised fights, filmed and uploaded to the internet, caused international embarrassment for authorities. Sands ran Mt Eden Corrections Facility for two-and-a-half years, including during the fight club scandal last year. The dumped former director of the prison says he was told to "reduce the noise" of his questions over fight club. He lost his job after Serco lost the contract to run the prison, in the wake of the revelations of prisoners involved in organised fighting bouts at Mt Eden. An investigation began into allegations of fight clubs in mid-2014. Sands said he started asking for information about the allegations in June 2014, but was told to "reduce the noise" of his requests. He was eventually given a redacted version of the fight club report in May 2015, in a brown paper envelope, with, he says, an instruction not to share it with anyone. Sands says during the time the investigation was underway, he was telling Corrections that staffing levels at Mt Eden were too low, and that in June 2015 he warned against making Mt Eden take in more prisoners. "On the 11th of June 2015 I specifically said I am concerned about the safety, security and welfare of staff and prisoners. I said that to the Department of Corrections and to Serco. "We've just had a murder at Christchurch. We've had attempted escapes, we've had escapes - not in my prison, elsewhere there's been escapes - attempted escapes, attempted murders, serious assaults, and I'm sitting in the prison I'm responsible for saying 'we need to be really careful here, because we're going to get to a point where something happened'. And it did". A month later, the fight club story broke. The report Sands says he was given in a brown paper envelope was made available by Corrections on its website on November 8. The redacted version mentions other prisons where organised fight clubs were believed to be happening. In its executive summary, the report writers said there was no evidence to support allegations of staff involvement in the fight clubs but it was unlikely staff would have been completely unaware of the fighting. "There is also evidence to support that Fight Clubs are being similarly operated at Northern Region Corrections Facility and Rimutaka Prison. "This information has been gathered from interviews with prisoners." Other allegations concerned claims staff assaulted prisoners, a lack of healthcare for injured prisoners and poor incident reporting. A probation officer claimed fights were organised by corrections officers, who used prison rations and phone cards as "revenue" and prisoners claimed members of Black Power carried knives inside Mt Eden for "personal protection", but these allegations were unsubstantiated during the investigation. Prisoners were interviewed as part of the investigation into the allegations and, under questioning, most of the 12 interviewees showed "real anxiety and fear". "Some of them became tearful during the interview. "Whilst talking about the Fight Club, the Special Monitors [investigators] could see the fear build in them and they would get to a point where they refused to speak further." Two types of bouts were organised, fight clubs involving prisoners being bullied or coerced into taking part and "contender series" bouts, in which fighters agreed to take part. "The prisoners described the fights as taking part over three rounds of one minute duration. Fighters are selected on size with ability having no bearing. The Special Monitors were told of instances of semi-professional fighters beating prisoners for the full three minutes. The fights were commonly described as mean, fierce, brutal and hard-out with no mercy for the contestants." A common theme throughout the reports was the staffing levels at Mt Eden. In the next episode in the series, to be published on Wednesday at 6pm, Stuff Circuit explore revelations of a concerning practice in Corrections-run prisons.

Nov 12, 2016 radionz.co.nz
Former Mt Eden inmate suing Corrections for $5m
A former inmate of the Serco-run Mt Eden Prison is seeking millions of dollars in compensation from the Corrections Department. Benjamin Lightbody has been left brain damaged after being assaulted at the prison in 2013. The Privacy Commission ruled Corrections interfered with his privacy by deleting or losing footage of the assault, he said. Mr Lightbody, a former goldsmith, is seeking $5 million in compensation from Corrections for loss of earnings. "Nearly a third of my brain has been damaged. I find it hard to sleep, eat regularly, my stamina and my overall health has decreased," he said. Corrections said it could not comment at this time as there were still potential proceedings on the case.

Nov 12, 2016 radionz.co.nz
Prison fight clubs: 'It was basically a jungle'
Prisoners were being forced to take part in fight clubs by the notorious Killer Beez street gang at Mt Eden prison as early as 2009, and were bashed if they refused. Prisoners filmed themselves fighting in Mt Eden prison. Prisoners filmed themselves fighting in Mt Eden prison and the videos were posted on YouTube in 2015. Newly released reports into fight clubs at the old and the new Mt Eden prison have revealed the extent of the violence, much of it before private operator Serco arrived on the scene. Corrections Minister Judith Collins said the reports were appalling and has called her department's behaviour "disturbing". The Department of Corrections first investigated reports of fight clubs at Mt Eden prison in 2009. It found the Killer Beez gang was forcing prisoners to fight and staff were turning a blind eye to the violence. Prisoners told investigators that if they didn't take part in the fight clubs, they would be pack-attacked by gang members later. Yesterday the department also released a 2014 special monitor's investigation into fight clubs at the new Serco-run Mt Eden jail, which until then it had refused to make public. It features allegations of savage attacks by gangs, beatings of prisoners by staff, and the deliberate outing of child sex offenders by prison staff to the general prison population. Prison staff also told the investigators the fight clubs were taking place when there weren't enough staff on the wings. "It was basically a jungle," said Labour Party corrections spokesperson Kelvin Davis. He said Corrections did nothing about it. "The report focused on the making sure that the staff weren't doing anything illegal, but they totally ignore the fact that prisoners were getting their heads punched in. I just think it's institutional neglect." Corrections Minister Judith Collins said both reports into organised fighting at Mt Eden were appalling, and Corrections had left ministers in the dark. "Both of them, I think, are really disturbing. And what's really disturbing is that these reports were not elevated at the right time to the chief executive or to the ministers at the time." In September 2015, RNZ lodged an Official Information Act request for all reports into fight clubs at Mt Eden held by the Corrections Department. At the time, Corrections said there was only one such report - the 2014 investigation - but yesterday it released the 2009 fight club report too. Ms Collins said that was not good enough. "It's completely unacceptable - and it's completely unacceptable that a minister who is held to account for their department does not have access to them." Mr Davis said everything he had been told by prisoners about violence in prisons had been backed up by the reports. "They are privileged prisoners that basically run the show and staff just turned a blind eye to it and allowed people to get assaulted at will. "It just beggars belief, to be honest, that this is going on in New Zealand." Green Party corrections spokesperson David Clendon said the reports confirms the worst fears about the prison's management. "Effectively it seems that Serco lost control of that prison, it was an unsafe prison. "That reality was suppressed for a very long time, and that could have allowed the situation to carry on for much longer than it needed to. The newly released information also shows Corrections was warned in 2014 that fight clubs were probably being run in Rimutaka and Ngawha Prisons. The 2014 special monitor's investigation also said inmates had told it of other fight clubs at the other two state-run prisons in Upper Hutt and Northland. Last month Corrections it said there was no evidence of fight clubs at prisons other than Mt Eden, after inspections in 2015 at eight jails including Ngawha and Rimutaka.

Nov 9, 2016 radionz.co.nz
Corrections sat on fight clubs investigation
Corrections sat on a finding that there were fight clubs at Mt Eden prison for a year, partly because the National Commissioner, Jeremy Lightfoot, doubted he could make Serco do anything about it, a report shows. Mr Lightfoot ordered the inquiry into organised violence at the then private-run prison in May 2014, received its findings by the middle of that year, then did nothing with those for a year until videos of fight clubs were posted on YouTube by inmates. Mr Lightfoot's inaction is documented in an audit of a 2014 fight club inquiry report, both of which were released yesterday for the first time. It shows he wanted more evidence after reading the inquiry report, but did not ask for it. "Additional work should have been undertaken at this point to provide greater certainty as to conclusions and recommendations, given the lack of accessible evidence" from the interviews with reluctant prisoners, the auditors said. In addition, Mr Lightfoot told the auditors he held back because the report's recommendations could not be implemented, as Mt Eden was at that time a private prison run by Serco and "any ... recommendations were not able to be implemented by Corrections". Nothing more was done until fight club videos from Mt Eden were posted on YouTube a year later, in mid-2015. Corrections chief executive Ray Smith said Mr Lightfoot  felt the report lacked substantive facts, which came out when the YouTube videos emerged. However, Mr Smith did not agree that Corrections was unable to require Serco to implement changes Corrections thought were important. Mr Smith said he proved this ultimately by taking Mt Eden's management off Serco, and forcing multimillion-dollar penalties on the multinational. A 2015 auditor's report also released for the first time yesterday said senior managers at the time were distracted by a major incident - the fleeing of convicted murderer and sex offender Phillip John Smith. Mr Lightfoot told auditors this escape took precedence and used up all resources. However, Phillip Smith's escape was in November, four months after the fight club inquiry's initial findings. "Oh look, Jeremy Lightfoot has done a terrific job as National Commissioner ... I do have confidence in Jeremy, but he would agree with me that this should have been handled better," Mr Smith said. "You know, people are human and they don't always do everything perfectly, and you to have to look at things in the round," he said. Corrections also released a report yesterday that showed there was evidence from prisoner interviews of fight clubs at Northland and Rimutaka prisons. The department inspected those and six other state-run jails last year and dismissed that.

Oct 8, 2016 newshub.co.nz
Serco insists there was no cover-up at Mt Eden prison
Serco has denied putting prisoners' lives at risk, despite leaving entire units unstaffed and unlocked at a facility full of violent offenders. The private prison operator is under renewed scrutiny following the release of a damning report into its failed attempt at running Mt Eden Corrections Facility. The chief inspector found Serco had little control over the understaffed prison, and employees regularly brought in contraband for inmates. Corrections monitors knew about the prison's problems, but failed to report it. Asked by TV3's The Nation how badly Serco ran the prison on a scale of one to 10, Corrections Minister Judith Collins - who originally awarded Serco the contract to run Mt Eden - gave it an "eight or nine". "They did actually do all of those things to start with - but near the end of the term of their contract, they started to lose control of the situation." A previously unreleased report from 2009, when the prison was run by Corrections, found many of the same problems existed then. It's believed the fight clubs that emerged under Serco were run by many of the same prisoners. Serco's Asia Pacific chief executive Mark Irwin said the company didn't cover up anything, and nor was it penny-pinching by refusing to hire enough staff. "There was no attempt at all, there was no deliberate attempt through the period of our contract for us to misreport anything," he told The Nation. "The inspector found that in his investigation." Prisoners took advantage of Serco's understaffing, taking part in brutal fights that went unreported. Mr Irwin says the company didn't "knowingly" put lives at risk by having entire units unmanned for up to two hours at a time. "We had no evidence of the organised fighting until the video evidence arrived," says Mr Irwin. But he does admit they failed to respond to low staff numbers "quickly enough". "That's unacceptable. We've admitted that." The prison staff's union raised concerns about Serco's running of Mt Eden in 2013, including the low staff numbers and how some prisoners were classified. Ms Collins says today is the first she's heard about the union's concerns. "It's interesting that you received those emails," she told The Nation. "I have no reason to believe the previous minister [Sam Lotu-Iiga] had access to those. I'd like to see those emails." She isn't aware if anyone at Serco or Corrections has lost their jobs over the scandal, and wouldn't comment on whether anyone should have. She also declined to comment about the fact one of the Corrections monitors at Mt Eden was now working at the prison in Wiri, south Auckland, which Serco also runs. Nor does she know if Corrections, which took over Mt Eden after Serco's contract was terminated, will be hiring Serco staff. "Corrections has told me not all of the Serco staff have been offered contracts," says Ms Collins. "I have to rely on the fact that Corrections is undertaking its due diligence of its staff members." On Friday, Labour's Phil Twyford said there are reports of fight clubs happening at Wiri. Ms Collins says there's no evidence that's true. "I've been into the prison, I've had a look around, I've seen people, I've walked through it. I haven't seen those reports." Serco has a 25-year contract to run Wiri. Ms Collins says there are no plans to cancel that arrangement, despite the company's failings at Mt Eden. "My choice is that we have a provider, or some providing of some competition." She says Wiri is a very different prison to Mt Eden, which houses remand prisoners. "People are on remand because they can't get bail or they haven't yet been sentenced. They have a stay on average of 23 days - it's a very volatile situation, and two-thirds of population in prison is there for violence, and most of those in remand are very violent people."

Oct 6, 2016 newshub.co.nz
Fight club report shows Serco lacked control of Mt Eden prison
John Key says a damning report into the failings of Serco at Mt Eden prison isn't a sign the Government should end the private prison programme, despite Opposition claims. The Chief Inspector's report into the remand prison's 'fight clubs' and availability of contraband has found Serco didn't have sufficient control over some aspects of the prison's management. It lays out more detail of how the organised fights worked, how banned items were brought into the prison and makes 21 recommendations for change. Labour and the Greens say it shows the "experiment" of private prisons needs to end. "It's time for Serco - and all private companies - to get out of our prisons, for good," Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei says. "The bottom line is that Serco can't be trusted to run our prisons, and the Government should immediately cut all ties to this negligent company." Labour's corrections spokesperson Kelvin Davis says "prisoners had taken control of the prison". He says private prisons have no place in New Zealand. But the Prime Minister says Serco's failure at Mt Eden isn't symptomatic of a disastrous programme. "It's definitive proof Serco failed to carry out the contract in the way they agreed to with the Corrections Department." He says so far, the new Serco-run prison in Wiri, south Auckland, shows no signs of being mismanaged. "Philosophically, I think there's a place for private and public prisons and they hold each other to account - and everything we see in Wiri so far, it's a very successful combination." The contracts mean Corrections can hold them to account if they breach terms, such as what happened at Mt Eden. Corrections stepped in to take over the running of the Mt Eden remand facility in July last year and announced it wouldn't be renewing the Serco contract. In April, the parties reached an $8 million settlement to cover the cost of Corrections taking over and performance notices. Serco also missed out on its performance bonus for the 2015/16 year, totalling $3.1 million. He says if the Government were to also cancel the Wiri contract, it could open them up to legal action. Asked if Serco was the wrong company to contract, Mr Key replied that in hindsight, "clearly they were the wrong choice". A number of the recommendations relate to the monitoring of contracts in prisons by Corrections, and the department has already strengthened their oversight of private prisons, including at Wiri. How the 'fight club' worked: The organised fights were brutal and sometimes involved multiple 'rounds' of fighting and a number of consecutive bouts per session. On occasion, the winner of the first fight would immediately face another challenger. Some prisoners reported being forced to fight, saying if they refused they'd be threatened, "pack attacked" or assaulted by senior gang members from the Killer Beez, Head Hunters, Black Power and others who helped put on the bouts. Aside from one instance where a staff member was identified on CCTV footage participating in sparring, the report says there was insufficient evidence to say staff were directly involved. Serco senior management received a number of internal reports suggesting such fights were going on, but it was likely they didn't know the full extent. Serco's rostering of day-to-day staff was "fundamentally flawed" because it included staff on annual or medical leave or who had resigned, resulting in an "inaccurate picture" of staffing levels. A review of CCTV footage showed instances where no staff members could be seen in some units for extended periods - in one situation there was no supervision for more than two-and-a-half hours. Staff were also seen on CCTV playing pool and table tennis. Long periods without supervision and a lack of CCTV cameras in cells allowed the fights to happen, the report found. Serco said plans were in place to address general violence at the prison before the fight club was exposed, but no evidence was provided to the investigation. During the media storm around the prison, it was alleged prisoners suffered serious injuries including broken limbs and brain damage. Two of those incidents were reviewed and showed prisoner on prisoner violence which met the criteria to be notified as a serious assault. But instead of that, they were reported to Corrections national office by Serco as an accident or not reported at all. Access to contraband: The report also found staff members were the most likely to have smuggled in "freely available" contraband to prisoners. Prisoners spoken to made statements saying anything that would fit in an icecream container could be smuggled in. Two staff members have recently been dismissed for contraband-related reasons, while another is under investigation. The report notes how staff search procedures were "relaxed" from July 2013. Instead of every staff member being screened on entry, a minimum of 40 staff were randomly searched each month. "Although Serco exceeded its own random searching numbers, this meant that many incoming staff were not searched, giving them the opportunity to smuggle contraband into the prison, if so inclined," the report says. Cells weren't searched as often as required, with some having no recorded searches for three months. Recommendations accepted: Corrections stepped in to take over the running of the Mt Eden remand facility in July last year and announced it wouldn't be renewing the Serco contract. In April, the parties reached an $8 million settlement to cover the cost of Corrections taking over and performance notices. Serco also missed out on its performance bonus for the 2015/16 year, totalling $3.1 million. Corrections boss Ray Smith says since taking over the prison, contraband searches have been stepped up, staffing levels are adequate and the kitchens have been upgraded to ensure hygiene levels are met. Staff will get more training and a Corrections prison director and deputy director have been appointed. There are extra monitors at the Serco-run Auckland South Corrections Facility. Mr Smith says he accepts all of the report's 21 recommendations, with 13 already in place and eight underway. The terms of reference also looked at eight other prisons, but found no evidence of organised fights there. "From time-to-time the management of prisons can fail, be they public or privately operated. It's important that we learn from these experiences to make the Corrections system stronger," Mr Smith says. He considers the report "important reading" for those in prison management to show "what can happen when control systems fail". Corrections Minister Judith Collins, who was not in the role when the fight club videos emerged, says she's confident lessons will be learned "by all parties".

Aug 30, 2016 radionz.co.nz
Asylum seeker forced to take part in fights at Mt Eden prison
A tribunal has accepted an asylum seeker's claims that he was forced to take part in fights at the troubled Mt Eden prison in Auckland. The man said he had been beaten during his two-month detention before he was allowed to move to the Mangere refugee resettlement centre. He told the immigration and protection tribunal he felt "psychologically ill" during his stay at Mt Eden. "Some inmates were members of the Black Power and Mongrel Mob [gangs] and carried knives," the tribunal was told. "They would take the appellant into a room with some five to 10 persons and he would be forced to fight someone bigger than himself. "The guards were not aware of what was going on, and he did not inform them as he feared being characterised as an informer." The tribunal, which heard his appeal for refugee status, accepted his evidence about the violence he suffered. It said: "He had been beaten by gang members and been forced into gang fights against persons stronger than himself on a weekly basis. "He stated that he still had light scarring on his head from injuries he had incurred. "Despite the fact that no contemporaneous psychological or medical evidence have been produced concerning the effects of this mistreatment on the appellant at this time, or any report or correspondence from Immigration New Zealand's compliance branch tendered on the matter, the Tribunal accepts the appellant's evidence that he was the victim of physical violence and forced to fight in gang fights during his period in prison." The man claimed refugee status when he arrived in New Zealand in 2014 from Somalia, and he was immediately taken to Mt Eden prison. He claimed he been kidnapped and ill-treated by Al-Shabaab, a militant Islamist group in Mogadishu, who attempted to forcibly recruit him as a jihadist. The man said the group later killed his father, brother and a close friend when he refused to join them, and that he feared for his life. He said the violence he suffered at Mt Eden prison had put him under mental pressure which meant there were differences between his initial claim made then to Immigration New Zealand and his subsequent evidence to immigration officials and the tribunal. But the tribunal said while it allowed for the effects the abuse could have had on the man's mental and physical health, the violence did not answer the tribunal's concerns about the discrepancies and implausibility of the man's version of events in Somalia. The man's Auckland-based lawyer, Tonderai Mukusha, said his client did not want to comment while he awaited a High Court decision on his refugee appeal.

Jun 12, 2016 radionz.co.nz
Serco lost $10m after Mt Eden fiasco
Private prison operator Serco lost $10 million last year after being stripped of its contract to run Mt Eden prison. Serco New Zealand lost the contract in last July following allegations of assaults and organised fight clubs. Accounts filed with the companies office showed the multinational company's New Zealand arm spent more than it earned in the 12 months to the end of December. Despite revenues of $64m, it costs more than doubled compared to the previous year to $74.9m. The cost of exiting its contract to run Mt Eden Prison totalled $10.1m, including the $8m fine it had to pay to the Department of Corrections for its failures. A further $2m was spent on what Serco deemed 'disengagement costs' which it incurred when its contract formally ended in March this year. The accounts showed Serco owes more debt than its assets were currently worth after having to borrow $13.5m from its British parent to prop up its books. Serco New Zealand's total liabilities now exceeded its assets by $18.9m. To reduce its debt Serco's British parent, Serco Group, agreed to increase its share capital in its New Zealand arm by $20m. Serco Group has also provided a letter of support stating it will enable Serco New Zealand to pay its debts until May 2017 - one year from the signing of the accounts. In a statement Serco said its latest financial statement included costs incurred as a result of the Department of Corrections 'step in' to manage Mt Eden Corrections Facility in July last year. "In April this year, Serco and Corrections entered into a disengagement and transition agreement and settlement deed, which included a final payment of $8 million to Corrections," it said. The company's commitment to New Zealand remained strong, Serco Asia Pacific chief executive Mark Irwin said in the statement. "All Serco New Zealand profits to date had been reinvested in the New Zealand operations. We remain absolutely committed to serving the people of New Zealand, providing services where we can deliver meaningful economic and social outcomes." Serco is one year into a 25 year contract to run the country's largest public private partnership at Kohuora Auckland South Corrections Facility in Wiri. "At Kohuora, we remain focused on doing a great job. We have a highly professional team in place and we have made a solid start," Mr Irwin said. In 2014, Serco lost $2.6m.

Apr 4, 2016 newstalkzb.co.nz
Serco pays Corrections $8 million to cover Mt Eden running costs
UPDATED 6.15PM Private Prison operator Serco has had to pay the Corrections Department $8 million. The sum has been paid after the department took over the running of the Mount Eden Corrections Facility in December last year following concerns about Serco's operation. It's become clear Serco was not employing enough staff at the prison, before the Government stepped in to end the private company's contract. Corrections Chief Executive Ray Smith said the 370 staff employed by Serco are still working at the prison - and Corrections has hired more. "We've been running with an extra 40 to 50 people here for the last nine months and that will continue to compliment the staff that are currently Serco employees". Minister Judith Collins said the Department will now run the facility, with Serco providing staff at a cost until the end of March next year. "There are some middle management jobs that might be lost, but the majority of the staff are going to be employed by Serco with Corrections paying their wages." Collins said it's a pleasing outcome. "Serco are not making any money out of this, it's absolutely a cost only basis, and Corrections is being paid $8 million from Serco to cover the costs of Corrections having to step in," she said. Serco chief Mark Irwin said it's only right, as the Government has incurred significant additional costs. "There were areas of performance, where under the performance management framework of the contract, we had performance payments, and we don't believe it's appropriate for that to happen, so we will be paying that back." Irwin won't say exactly which of its obligations weren't met. But he's admitted the problems centred on issues other than just the ratio of officers to inmates. "There has been an increase in the muster but as I said it's not just that pure number it is also the profile of the people and some of the initial demands that go around serving the justice system more broadly". He said the full detail will be in the Chief Inspector's report - which is currently being disputed in the High Court. Smith said staff have been told they're still needed at the facility despite the change of management. He said there'll be a transition over the next 12 months until the prison is run solely by Corrections employees. "Mark and his team from Serco will provide a labour-supply contract that's cost only, it's not a profit-based contract, so we'll pay for the labour that we receive to help us run the prison through to the end of the contract and beyond that time period". Smith said the Department will continue to run the facility. "The Department of Corrections is going to continue running the prison beyond the end of this prison contract, but I will provide advice to the Government in due course about the options that they have with the prison going forward". It's an arrangement Labour MP Kelvin Davis has reservations about. "I think maybe Serco should just cut it's losses and hand the whole thing back over to Corrections and let Corrections start again from the beginning". Davis said it confirms the privatisation experiment has been a complete failure. This company that is apparently a state-of-the-art organisation that can run prisons has now become little more than a labour-hire company. I just think that's ridiculous, in fact it's a joke". The Public Service Association said other state prisons in Auckland suffered when staff were sent to take over the Serco-run Mt Eden prison. National Secretary Erin Polaczuk said the debacle has cost not only the corrections department, but the safety and well being of the offices working inside prisons. "The fact that they were called in to bail out Serco and what was going on at the Mount Eden, at the same time as the unanticipated growth in prisoner numbers across the country, definitely led to a strain within the service". Ms Polaczuk hopes Corrections Minister Judith Collins will treat the incident as a cautionary tale. "I think they've learnt their lesson that Serco and other companies like it which try to make profit from public services and can't be trusted and cant deliver the best for the people who work in those services or the people who rely on them".

Feb 15, 2016 stuff.co.nz
Corrections stands by investigation into Serco Mt Eden 'fight clubs'
An investigation into allegations of "fight clubs" at Mt Eden prison was motivated by prisoner safety and not a desire to target Serco, a court has been told, after it was revealed investigations into organised fighting at the prison go back to 2009. Lawyers for the Department of Corrections have defended their latest investigation, saying it was "overly cautious and rightfully so", motivated by prisoner safety and not a desire to target Serco. A Serco-initiated judicial review of a Corrections investigation report, produced following allegations in mid-2015 of fight clubs and access to contraband, began in Wellington's High Court on Monday. The report was completed last year but not released due to the legal challenge. Serco lawyer Hayden Wilson said the investigation had failed to cover two earlier reports on organised fighting at Mt Eden - in 2009, before Serco started running the prison, and in 2014. The existence and findings of those reports, which were not shared with Serco until after last year's inquiry was launched, should have been taken into consideration when judging Serco's management, he said. A spokeswoman for Corrections Minister Judith Collins, who was in charge of the department in 2009, said she had not been advised by Corrections of any allegations or investigations. A Corrections spokesperson said the 2009 investigation looked into allegations of fighting and possible staff involvement but related to the old Mt Eden prison, which was closed in 2011, and not Mt Eden Corrections Facility. A report found it was likely that some prisoners were involved in "short fights or assaults carried out in areas away from staff or CCTV cameras". As the investigation found it was "unlikely" that staff were involved, Corrections did not tell Collins about the allegations. Wilson said the reports were among relevant information omitted from the investigation, as its focus shifted from its terms of reference into a wider investigation of "the management practices of Serco". Serco had been "wandering in the dark" as a result of Corrections' failure to give it sufficient information about allegations related to the fight clubs and other problems, which could be disproven in some instances. Early drafts of the report were "entirely silent" on serious allegations of an initiation ritual called "dropping", where prisoners were thrown over a balcony to the concrete below. Serco was eventually provided information showing none of 90 staff members and prisoners interviewed had seen the ritual, and successfully asked for the report to be amended to reflect that. Wilson said other statements from prisoners had been quoted in the report as fact, despite being "unsubstantiated and inconsistent with each other". Serco asked for interview notes to "check patterns" and help its own investigations but was told by Corrections they could not be provided due to promises of confidentiality - despite no evidence of "strict undertakings" being provided. Michael Heron QC, representing Corrections' chief inspector of prisons Andy Fitzharris, said video footage of the fights demonstrated the need for a thorough investigation which focused on prisoner safety and not Serco. "There's only one word that describes it, it is sickening. "That is not a criticism of anyone, but what it does tell you is...this is not about Serco, this is about safe custody." Heron said Serco's primary complaints were about the "tone and language" of the report, rather than the findings and recommendations, which it largely accepted. He said investigators had been "overly cautious and rightfully so" in investigating the allegations and making changes in response to feedback from Serco. The evidence from interviewed prisoners was obtained "in circumstances of confidentiality" and weighed by experienced investigators, and providing the names of interviewees could compromise their safety within the prison. Serco could also have undertaken its own investigations based on the evidence it had at its disposal, Heron said. Corrections took over control of the prison in July after the allegations were revealed, and last December announced it would invoke a six-year "break point" in the Mt Eden contract in March 2017 - a decision which was supported by the private operator. On 27 May, Haroon Ahmed walked out of the visits hall with a visitor, through the gatehouse of the prison. Michael Guy from firm Serco which runs the jail said: "This report recognises both the considerable changes there have been at Dovegate over the past year and the challenges faced in all prisons of tackling the problem of psychoactive substances, overcrowding and making our prisons safer. "We are working extremely hard to address these issues."

Dec 18, 2015 scoop.co.nz
New figures show Serco received $8m in bonuses
Serco has received $8 million in performance bonuses since 2011, despite Serco’s performance being so poor its contract to run Mt Eden Correctional Facility has not been renewed. Figures prepared for the Green Party by the Parliamentary Library, show that over $8 million has been paid to Serco as performance-related bonuses, over and above its normal contract rate, since 2011. The figure includes deductions made for poor performance and not reaching targets. “These payments were bonuses paid on the basis of Serco doing a good job, but what seems clear is that Serco has not done a good job,” says Green Party corrections spokesperson David Clendon. “The Corrections Minister must now review whether the payments were deserved, given what is known about Serco’s mismanagement of Mt Eden Prison. It is astounding that Serco, which failed to perform its basic job of managing a safe and secure prison, has received so much public money for so-called good performance. “The Government now has a duty to go back through Serco’s record and ensure that every performance-related dollar it received was deserved, especially in light of the $17.9 million injection Corrections received yesterday. “Within a year, Mt Eden Prison went from supposedly the best performing prison to the worst. “It looks like far too much taxpayers’ money has been gifted to an organisation that has clearly failed to do its job,” said Mr Clendon.

Nov 9, 2015 m.nzherald.co.nz

Serco training left new staff at risk

Serco became so consumed with moving as many prison guards as it could through its training school that it left its new employees at risk when they started on the job, a New Zealand Qualifications Authority report has found. In a report critical of Serco NZ Training, NZQA found the company's initial training course had been deliberately structured to tick the legal boxes needed to get new employees into prison and working. In doing so it created patchwork training leaving "Serco employees with the basic requirements to perform as prison officers" but creating "a risk to the employees working in a complex and high-risk environment like prisons". The NZQA report studied the private Serco Training facility which exists solely to train prison guards to work in Mt Eden and Wiri prisons. Serco Training is owned by Serco, the company which has the contract to manage the private prisons. Serco's management of Mt Eden prison - which the training facility is based - has come in for criticism after mobile phones recordings in the jail showed contraband and violence among inmates.The Department of Corrections took over management of the prison in June while an inquiry was being carried out. The NZQA report was critical of Serco NZ Training's systems which had seen 372 new prison guards trained since the company started in mid-2013. It found a heavy focus on the nine-week "initial training" needed to have a new staff member "legally recognised as a prison officer". But the "initial training" content plucked the legal requirements from the level three National Certificate in Offender Management course which aimed to allow new guards "consolidate their prison management skills" while building confidence through work-based training. Only 26 per cent of those enrolled had completed the full course inside the six months it was meant to take. NZQA called the qualification rates "weak", saying it was "largely due to flaws in the programme design" including assessment methods which were "impractical and unrealistic". Even if students had wanted to push on to the full qualification, there was a "lack of capacity in Serco Training to support trainees through workplace training". "Direction from governance (Serco managers) was overly focused on ensuring sufficient supply of prison officers." NZQA found Serco NZ Training "was not adequately resourced" which "led to a sacrifice in qualification completion putting Serco employees at risk of not refining their skills while operating in a complex and high-risk prison environment". NZQA found Serco's new prison at Wiri meant it needed "hundreds of new prison officers to be recruited and trained". It meant a "very high throughput of initial training." A Serco spokeswoman said recruitment and training of Corrections Officers to staff Auckland South Corrections Facility was a primary focus during the period under review by NZQA. "We are pleased NZQA found Serco Training met the most critical needs of training, ensuring all staff met the requirements to work as a prison officer. The report recognises that Serco Training's initial training course for Corrections Officers clearly provides new employees with the knowledge, skills and attitudes for this role. "Many of our officers are well down the track to achieving the extended NCOM 3 qualification, which will further enhance their ability to make a difference in prisoners' lives. Serco Training is committed to lifting the qualification completion rate for the National Certificate in Offender Management, in line with NZQA's recommendations." Corrections commercial director Julie Robertson said there was "no contractual relationship" with Serco's training arm. Under the contract Corrections had with the company, she said Serco was required "to have sufficient suitable staff members trained to a minimum legislated standard to deliver their contract". Since July, Corrections had a prison director and management team put in Mt Eden prison to "oversee its day to day running". "This management team has been helping Serco staff lift the standard of operation of Mt Eden Corrections Facility to acceptable levels." Labour prisons' spokesman Kelvin Davis said it would be expected an employer would help staff prepare as best they could for challenging situations. "If they are only getting bare basics, no wonder there are problems." Corrections minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga declined to comment on the issue.


Sep 10, 2015 stuff.co.nz

Documents released to 3 News show Mt Eden Corrections Facility operator Serco is facing more than $1m in fines.

FAIRFAX NZ Prime Minister John Key hasn't ruled out cancelling private prison operator Serco's contract once investigations are complete. Key said the good thing about private operators was the Government had the "capacity to fine them". "And they have a whole host of reasons why they can be fined." Serco is facing more than $1 million in fines for its failings at Mt Eden Corrections Facility. Documents released to 3 News under the Official Information Act show Serco has been charged a range of fines during the past 12 months for not doing its job properly and the costs could continue to mount. Key said while the fines looked "quite big" Serco earn "quite a lot off the contract and there is lots of moving parts to that". Corrections stepped in to take over management at the corrections facility after reports of "fight clubs" and contraband at the prison. While investigations continue into Serco's running of Mt Eden Key said "all the options are on the table". "That includes increasing fines, them going back and cancellation of the the contract - they're all still on the table". Corrections Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga said public opinion was something taken into account in who ran prisons, but the Government was contractually bound to Serco. "We've got a contract with Serco at Mt Eden, and Wiri, and we're bound by that." Cancelling the contract with Serco was still an option, with Lotu-Iiga adding "all options are on the table". Decisions could not be made until the review at the troubled Mt Eden prison had been completed, Lotu-Iiga said. "I think it's prudent for us as a government to wait for those reviews to be completed and make those decisions then. "Cancellation is always on the table in terms of the options that are available to us." Serco is paid about $31.5m a year to run the prison. About $3m of that is made up of performance bonuses and fines can only be deducted from that, 3 News reported. Failing to control prisoners to ensure a safe jail cost Serco $50,000, unlawfully mixing inmates cost $100,000, not meeting incident reporting targets and other contractual requirements cost $150,000, according to the news agency. The biggest fine Serco has received was more than $315,000 for failing to keep serious assaults down. The first set of fines total $615,000, but the list keeps going. Since the videos of fight-club style brawls involving Mt Eden prisoners surfaced in July, Serco has received almost $500,000 more in penalty notices. The recent fines include unlawful detention, $25,000; failing to meet education targets, $50,000; failing to ensure prisoner safety and welfare, $200,000; breach of contract for serious assault rates, $50,000; and a death in custody, $150,000, 3 News reported. During the past year Serco has been hit with $1,090,000 in fines but the prison is yet to be fined over allegations of fight clubs and contraband. Key said he had confidence in Corrections Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga to do the job and establish exactly what went wrong at Mt Eden.

Aug 25, 2015
radionz.co.nz
Guard helped inmates with fighting technique

Corrections Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga has revealed that a prison guard helped inmates with their fighting techniques in Mt Eden prison. Labour said the situation at Mt Eden was getting beyond a joke and is further proof that a fully independent inquiry is needed. At the weekend, private prison company Serco confirmed a staff member was suspended after being caught on security footage fighting with an inmate. Neither the company nor the Corrections Department would comment further while the Chief Inspectorate of Prisons was investigating the running of Mount Eden. Mr Lotu-Liga said the staff member was not fighting with an inmate. "[The footage] shows a prison guard on CCTV footage approaching a group of prisoners who were sparring, he then gives them some coaching on their technique. "Sparring is a banned activity and Serco was shown the footage on the sixth of August. Serco have suspended the staff member while the investigation proceeds." Labour corrections spokesperson Kelvin Davis said the situation with Serco has gone from the sublime to the ridiculous. "The Minister's statement today that a guard was coaching sparring techniques to inmates is completely shambolic. "An independent inquiry is the only way forward as I have no confidence whatsoever in the findings of any inquiry conducted by Corrections or Serco." Mr Davis said he was continuing to get letters about allegations of abuse and mistreatment in prisons some of which he had passed on to the police.

Aug 23, 2015 stuff.co.nz
Mt Eden prison officer suspended after fighting with inmate

Fighting in prison is no new phenomenon, but filming them on mobile phones and uploading to social media has lead to an investigation by Corrections. A staff member at the troubled Mt Eden private prison has been suspended after being caught on camera sparring with an inmate. The CCTV footage that led to the officer's downfall shows the staff member being "knocked out", a prison source said. Staff fighting with inmates is just the latest controversy to hit the prison, operated by British company Serco. The Department of Corrections has seized control of Mt Eden following a string of revelations including concerns over prisoner safety and inmates taking part in organised "fight clubs", then posting the footage to the internet via contraband cellphones. It is understood the footage was not a cellphone recording, but was discovered as part of the review into Mt Eden being carried out by the Prison Inspectorate and the Ombudsman. A Serco spokeswoman confirmed the officer had been suspended after being caught on security camera footage fighting with a prisoner. The staff member would be subjected to a disciplinary hearing. "The safety and security of staff, prisoners and visitors in Mt Eden Corrections Facility is paramount and we have zero tolerance for violence." Serco refused to answer questions about when the footage was from and if it had informed Corrections about the incident appropriately. Similarly, Corrections Northern Regional Commissioner Jeanette Burns refused to say when the department had been informed of the footage. No comment would be made until the review was completed, she said. Labour Party justice spokesman Kelvin Davis, who has been a vocal critic of Serco since the allegations of fight clubs and prisoner safety surfaced, said the stories coming out of Mt Eden were "beyond belief". He had heard several staff had turned a blind eye to prisoner assaults and one source had told him of an incident where a segregated inmate was being led through the mainstream prison section by guards, but ended up being beaten anyway. "It just proves what I've been saying, Serco has lost control of the prison and the guards are obviously part of the whole mess and it's time for Serco to be sent packing." A spokeswoman for Corrections Minister Sam Lotu-Liga said he was aware of a number of allegations involving Mt Eden Prison. "The Minister has previously expressed his concern about the allegations and awaits the outcome of the chief inspectorate's review."


Jul 27, 2015 nbr.co.nz
Multinational firm Serco faces a financial penalty of $500,000 after widespread allegations of prisoner mistreatment at Mt Eden Prison in Auckland, which it runs. Corrections boss Ray Smith told Radio New Zealand this morning he was likely to sign off $500,000 worth of penalties, with more to come. Last week Corrections announced it would be take over the management of the Mt Eden Prison from Serco. The announcement came shortly after Serco managing director Paul Mahoney met Corrections Minister Sam Lotu-liga to discuss a string of recent controversies over prison violence and organised boxing fights. "There are also other options potentially available to me under the contract. These include a final warning and early termination of the contract," Mr Smith said. He added financial charges “may be imposed” because of the events that have surfaced in the past week. “These are likely to be substantial," he said. On Saturday, Prime Minister John Key left open the possibility of cancelling Serco’s contract but said the failures did not give him cause to reconsider the government’s push to use more private providers in health, state housing, education and welfare. Labour’s corrections spokesman Kelvin Davis has been critical of SERCO’s management of Mt Eden Prison, as well as the government’s reaction to the saga. He told NBR Radio last week that the private prison experiment has been an “utter failure in New Zealand.” He says the government should have known better, as Serco has a “dodgy reputation” overseas. “[The government] should have read the tea leaves and never even gone there with Serco,” he says. Last week, Mr Davis Tweeted that Serco is entitled to $1.2 million in performance-related bonuses. “I say give it to the people who have been abused in Serco’s care,” Mr Davis tweeted.

Jul 25, 2015 odt.co.nz

Private prison company Serco has admitted it received reports of organised "fight clubs" in its prisons two months ago, but will only investigate now, after fight footage was shot and shared online. The fight clubs were a "disgrace" and showed private companies should not run prisons, the Public Service Association said. Serco said today it would work with the Department of Corrections, the Ombudsman and Serco staff from outside Mt Eden Corrections Facility (MECF) to investigate the fight clubs. A report is due on August 28. "I am currently at the prison, overseeing and supporting management myself," Serco director of operations Scott McNairn said today. "...We have tough new measures in place to further enhance our regime. This is on top of the existing security activity, which has included a full lockdown search of the prison. There will be more to come." Mr McNairn said Serco had received relevant parts of Corrections' report on allegations of organised fights in prisons. "We noted that the allegations were not substantiated, and confirmed that recommended steps were already in place at MECF." Corrections Association president Beven Hanlon said earlier today he had raised concerns about the prison 18 months ago. Two people were appointed to investigate, but the association "never heard any results", and only recently saw the report, he told Radio New Zealand this morning. But Mr McNairn said Serco took its obligations to its staff, Corrections and taxpayers seriously. "We do not underestimate the challenge of operating this prison. We hold 976 of the country's most difficult and challenging individuals. As an inner city remand prison, we manage tens of thousands of prisoner movements every year. "Preventing violence, attempts to smuggle contraband and other criminal activity inside the prison walls is a daily reality. Our managers and staff work incredibly hard to manage these challenges." The PSA, which said it represented 3000 Corrections staff and 100 Serco prison staff, called the prison fights "inexcusable"."Private prisons are focussed on profit, not on ensuring safety for staff or rehabilitation for prisoners," said national secretary Erin Polaczuk. "Private companies like Serco are not subject to the same public service ethos as those directly employed by Government." Ms Polaczuk said staffing levels at Serco facilities were too low to ensure staff safety and proper monitoring of prisoners. "The prison fights are inexcusable and the whole situation must be independently investigated, and the Government must commit to bringing prisons back under public control."


Jul 24, 2015 Jul 24, 2015 sharechat.co.nz
Private prison operator Serco relieved of control at Mt Eden prison

Multi-national private prison operator Serco has been forced to hand back control of Auckland's Mt Eden remand prison to the Department of Corrections, which has used a 'step-in' clause in its contract with Serco following a string of increasingly serious allegations about contraband, prisoner injuries and a death. Corrections Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga and Corrections Department chief executive Ray Smith hosted a hastily arranged press conference at Parliament this afternoon to announce the decision, which was Smith's, cauterising what had developed over the course of the last week to be a major political issue and included calls for Lotu-Iiga's resignation. Serco will continue to earn fees under its 10-year contract to run Mt Eden and remains responsible for meeting staff wages and the operational costs of the prison, as well as becoming liable without compensation for all the additional costs of inserting what Smith called a "crack team" of as many as 20 state prison managers to "sort out" the problems at Mt Eden. The allegations about Serco's management include prisoners being 'dropped' from balconies in initiation ceremonies at the prison, resulting in injury and one alleged death, the transfer of prisoners injured at Mt Eden to state-run prisons to get them off the remand prison's books, along with forced participation in 'fight clubs' and the presence in the prison of illicit drugs, home-brewed alcohol and mobile phones. "Following a new allegation yesterday, I am pleased that Ray Smith has made the decision that Corrections will take over the running of the prison for the immediate future," said Lotu-Iiga. Similar takeovers of prison management had occurred at state-run prisons that had experienced problems, the minister said, citing the replacement of management at the Spring Hill state prison after a riot in June 2013. The Mt Eden furore has erupted just as Serco enters a period in which it renegotiates the terms of the second half of its contract for Mt Eden, with the government able to terminate the contract at any time between now and a "break date" in 2016. Asked what the chances were of Serco still running the prison past that break date, Lotu-Iiga said: "I don't know." The inquiry now under way into the prison's management was important to help determine the way forward. Under the contract terms, it could be broken immediately but the right course of action was an inquiry, he said. Serco's contract to run the recently opened prison at Wiri is unaffected. Wiri was developed as a public-private partnership and houses prisoners who have been sentenced, unlike Mt Eden, where prisoners are either awaiting trial or are being held prior to transfer after sentencing to more permanent incarceration. Mt Eden has a high turnover of around 4,000 prisoners a year and is acknowledged as a "difficult" prison to manage, said Lotu-Iiga. Smith said he had been in contact with Serco's senior executive for the Asia-Pacific region and had spoken to the global chief executive, Rupert Soames, in London, about the issues. It was inevitable that Serco would face penalty charges relating to the incidents that had been uncovered so far. The second phase of a complete search of Mt Eden was now under way. Hampshire-based Serco runs outsourced public services around the world in numerous sectors, employing 122,000 people in 30 countries, including Australia's mainland and Christmas Island immigration detention centres to house asylum-seekers and illegal migrants arriving by boat and air. It reported 1.5 billion British pounds in writedowns on the value of its contracts last November and was forced to go to shareholders for an emergency 550 million pound recapitalisation through a rights issue. It announced profit downgrades at the same time.Soames announced at the time the company would narrow the focus of its outsourced contracting to defence, transport, health, justice and immigration services for the UK, Middle East, Australia and New Zealand. The New Zealand unit reported an annual loss of $2.6 million, including $1.5 million impairment charge on mobilisation and bid costs, in calendar 2014.

Jul 23, 2015 3news.co.nz
Minister puts Serco on notice over prison UPDATED

The operator of Mt Eden Corrections Facility, Serco, has been fined $300,000 over its private prison operation in New Zealand. Serco has been officially put on notice by the Corrections Minister over concerns about safety and security at the remand prison. And it's not guaranteed to have its contract renewed either. Under questioning in the House by Green MP David Clendon this afternoon, the minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga said in the 2014/2015 financial year, the company had been fined a $300,000 performance-related fee. "Some of the incidents include insufficient staff levels, mixing accused prisoners with other prisoners, minimum entitlements and incident notification," Mr Lotu-Iiga said. Earlier today, Serco bosses Scott McNairn and Paul Mahoney met with Mr Lotu-Iiga in his Beehive office. Mr Lotu-Iiga said in the House nothing was brought up in the meeting which would have required the company be fined. He denied there was a "dysfunctional relationship" between him and the Corrections Department given a report into fight clubs in prison was done a year ago, but never given to him. The minister has said the meeting had previously been scheduled, but intended to express his disappointment in how the prison is run given allegations of inappropriate behaviour behind its walls. "I have made my concerns clear to both Serco and the Department of Corrections, and have laid out my expectations going forward," Mr Lotu-Iiga says. "Serco has been left in no doubt that their performance across the board needs to improve and that they are on notice." While Mt Eden was a "challenging environment" because it is a remand prison and with a transient prison population, Mr Lotu-Iiga says it doesn't excuse Serco from providing adequate safety and security. Mr Clendon questioned why the company had only been on notice and facing their contract being cancelled, given revelations of fight clubs, drinking, drug-taking and rumours of serious assaults. "Do they need actually to burn Mt Eden prison down before the minister will act decisively?" he said. "Unlike that party, we believe there is a process to follow, due process. There needs to be a review, we need to get to the bottom of the facts around some of the incidents we've seen in recent days and they you make the appropriate decisions," Mr Lotu-Iiga replied. The prison operator is in the period where it can renegotiate the terms of its 10-year $300 million contract with the Crown, including whether to extend the deal beyond 2016. When asked whether he would renew the contract, Mr Lotu-Iiga said: "I can't guarantee that that will happen. "We will get the findings of the review in terms of the incidents that were reported and we will make decisions, going forward, that will be based on their performance." Serco was tracking well in the nine months through to March 31, meeting 31 out of 37 performance measures, and hitting 13 of 14 key performance indicator targets that grant it access to performance bonuses. The company says it will cooperate fully with the chief inspectorate review into the behaviour in the prison including fight clubs, drinking and drug-taking which begins on Monday. It will look into contraband and incidents of violence in Serco-run prisons and those managed by the Department of Corrections.

Jul 20, 2015 odt.co.nz/new

Jail company 'knew about fight clubs'

Private prison company Serco has admitted it received reports of organised "fight clubs" in its prisons two months ago, but will only investigate now, after fight footage was shot and shared online. The fight clubs were a "disgrace" and showed private companies should not run prisons, the Public Service Association said. Serco said today it would work with the Department of Corrections, the Ombudsman and Serco staff from outside Mt Eden Corrections Facility (MECF) to investigate the fight clubs. A report is due on August 28. "I am currently at the prison, overseeing and supporting management myself," Serco director of operations Scott McNairn said today. "...We have tough new measures in place to further enhance our regime. This is on top of the existing security activity, which has included a full lockdown search of the prison. There will be more to come." Mr McNairn said Serco had received relevant parts of Corrections' report on allegations of organised fights in prisons. "We noted that the allegations were not substantiated, and confirmed that recommended steps were already in place at MECF." Corrections Association president Beven Hanlon said earlier today he had raised concerns about the prison 18 months ago. Two people were appointed to investigate, but the association "never heard any results", and only recently saw the report, he told Radio New Zealand this morning. But Mr McNairn said Serco took its obligations to its staff, Corrections and taxpayers seriously. "We do not underestimate the challenge of operating this prison. We hold 976 of the country's most difficult and challenging individuals. As an inner city remand prison, we manage tens of thousands of prisoner movements every year. "Preventing violence, attempts to smuggle contraband and other criminal activity inside the prison walls is a daily reality. Our managers and staff work incredibly hard to manage these challenges." The PSA, which said it represented 3000 Corrections staff and 100 Serco prison staff, called the prison fights "inexcusable". "Private prisons are focussed on profit, not on ensuring safety for staff or rehabilitation for prisoners," said national secretary Erin Polaczuk. "Private companies like Serco are not subject to the same public service ethos as those directly employed by Government." Ms Polaczuk said staffing levels at Serco facilities were too low to ensure staff safety and proper monitoring of prisoners. "The prison fights are inexcusable and the whole situation must be independently investigated, and the Government must commit to bringing prisons back under public control."

Jul 19, 2015 stuff.co.nz/national/politics
New Zealand: Serco fight club investigation widens

Fighting in prison is no new phenomenon, but filming them on mobile phones and uploading to social media has lead to an investigation by Corrections. The government-ordered review into leaked 'fight club' footage at an Auckland prison will investigate whether staff knew about or helped run the organised fighting ring. The Chief Inspector of Corrections will also be investigating whether similar violence was happening at other prisons. Details of the investigation have come after Corrections confirmed it was examining its "contractual options" with Serco, the company which manages Mt Eden prison where the fights were recorded. The investigation would also cover violence allegations and the use of cell phones in other prisons. The investigation would also cover violence allegations and the use of cell phones in other prisons. Video footage of prisoners fighting each other in cells and exercise yards was posted online, and has drawn condemnation from both the Government and opposition. On Sunday Corrections Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga announced the terms of reference for an investigation, widening the scope to include allegations related to violence and the use of cell phones in other prisons. "This behaviour of prisoners is unacceptable and I have asked Corrections to carry out a robust and thorough review of the incidents," he said. Serco was also conducting its own investigation, and the police could undertake their own investigation. Phase one of Corrections chief inspector Andy Fitzharris' investigation would look at the circumstances surrounding the incidents posted to social media and whether there were organised prisoner fights at Mt Eden Prison. "The investigation will pay particular attention to the last three months to determine whether this type of activity is widespread across the site or limited to specific units, whether management or staff knew of it, what they did about it and what measures have been taken to restrict contraband," Lotu-Iiga said. It would also look at "whether staff and management had knowledge of the existence of a 'fight club' operating, and any involvement by staff in its operation" and the "levels of supervision and security operating that would allow this activity to occur without staff intervention. "I also expect recommendations to come out of it to strengthen controls, standards and operating procedures if warranted," Lotu-Iiga said. The second phase would review the adequacy of controls designed to address prisoner violence and access to cell phones in other New Zealand prisons. "To ensure an independent view of this process the Office of the Ombudsman has been invited to monitor and review the investigation. Full cooperation will be afforded to the Ombudsman's investigator, who may also independently report on any matter concerning the incidents or its subsequent investigation. "I have already put Serco on notice over the incidents at [Mount Eden]. I will be meeting with Serco senior management this week and I am expecting a positive and strong response from the company in resolving these issues."


Jul 17, 2015 3news.co.nz
Prison fights sometimes 'simply entertainment'

Private prison operator SERCO is coming under increasing pressure following claims guards in Mt Eden Prison are encouraging organised fight clubs. It has now been revealed both the Corrections Department and SERCO knew about the clubs 18 months ago. The fights happen in one-minute rounds. Sometimes it is gang prospects trying to get patched, other times it is a way to earn a reputation. 3 News met one former inmate who says guards turn a blind eye to fights, which on the inside are called "contender battles". "Some of it is one gang versus another, other times it's internal gangs sorting out differences… or just simply entertainment," he says. SERCO has been plagued by allegations that its attempts at cost cutting could put lives at risk. The prison is struggling to find and keep staff, and topped a list for the number of prisoner assaults in the three years to 2014. Several inmates have told 3 News the guards not only allow the fights, but actively encourage them by putting rival gangs in the same block and sometimes placing bets. In a statement, SERCO says it is working with Corrections in its investigation, but goes on to say that for many prisoners violence is the norm. Corrections denies guards are involved, but admits it knew about the fight clubs 18 months ago. It says back then it could not find enough evidence to warrant a full scale investigation. Community advocate Richie Hardcore says this should be a wakeup call for lawmakers. "Eighty percent of people in prison were under the influence of alcohol or other drugs at the time of their offending," he says. "You have to look at the environment and the context." SERCO's contract is up for renewal in 2017, but Corrections is hinting that it is reviewing its contractual obligations.


May 18, 2015 adionz.co.nz

The Corrections Minister is rejecting criticisms of the New Zealand prison system made in a United Nations report. In a report on how New Zealand is implementing UN initiatives against inhuman treatment, the Committee Against Torture has identified 13 areas of concern. They include domestic violence, the Independent Police Conduct Authority, over-representation of Maori in prisons, use of tasers and people-trafficking. The UN paper claimed prisons were overcrowded, had inadequate health services, and too much power to strip-search inmates. The Minister, Sam Lotu-Iiga, said New Zealand had one of the best corrections systems in the world. "I don't know whether I agree with the assertions that they make based on the evidence that I've seen. "I accept their right to make the points, but I don't accept that they are major problems in our prison system." Mr Lotu-Iiga said he would consider the recommendations, but he was comfortable with the state of New Zealand prisons. Concerns about private prisons: A United Nations committee said the Government needed to keep a closer eye on privately run prisons, which it said were more violent than comparable public prisons. On private prisons, the report says the rate of violence between prisoners and assaults on guards at the Serco-managed Mt Eden prison is higher than in public prisons. The committee says the Government needs to ensure private prisons are upholding the same standards as those in the public system. This is the sixth such report on New Zealand's implementation of the Convention against Torture, Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Almost every report has drawn attention to the over-representation of Maori and across every aspect of the justice system. While Maori make up about 15 percent of the general population they account for about half of the prison population - and that jumps to 60 percent for women.


Jan 14, 2014 stuff.co.nz

Private prison operator Serco has apologised to Kim Dotcom for his treatment at Mt Eden after his arrest two years ago. The firm, which has a well- documented history of blunders in its British, Australian and New Zealand operations, has also apologised to Fairfax NZ for providing incorrect information when questioned about the German internet mogul's time in custody. Dotcom was arrested on copyright charges after a high-profile raid on his mansion at Coatesville, north of Auckland, in January 2012, which was requested by the FBI and carried out by the New Zealand police special tactics group. The raid has since been deemed illegal by the High Court. He complained at the time about not receiving the toiletry pack supposed to be given to all prisoners when they arrive in custody. The "new-arrival packs" contain bedding, a towel, toilet paper, soap, shampoo, toothpaste and a toothbrush. Dotcom said he received none of those items, and was unable to wash himself after going to the toilet. In November he threatened to sue Serco over his treatment. When Fairfax then contacted Serco, it initially dismissed his allegations about the arrival pack. It said it had no record that any complaint was made by Dotcom or his lawyers over his treatment at Mt Eden. However, communications manager Jane Palmer has now said that statement was incorrect. Serco had since retrieved an "archived record" which showed a complaint was raised, she said. "We apologise for the error. We have also written to the individual [Kim Dotcom] to apologise to him." Dotcom said the apology, which he received yesterday, was the first he had received from Serco, but it did not go far enough. "They only apologise for the arrival treatment. Not for all the worst experiences that came after that. "I was fearing for my health and my life because they did not look after my well-documented health issues to a point that I was unable to see my lawyers because I was paralysed from back pain. "A flashlight was flashed in my face at least every two hours, sometimes more frequently while I was sleeping. "In my one month in remand I was constantly tired and did not have a single night of uninterrupted sleep. "They should apologise for those much more serious injustices." He said he also suspected prison authorities may have knowingly allowed a phone call to be placed to him while he was on remand that was designed to entrap him. Serco has run the Mt Eden Corrections Facility on behalf of the Corrections Department since the prison opened in 2011. Ad Feedback: Labour corrections spokeswoman Jacinda Ardern said it should lose its contract to run Mt Eden. "Because this is a privately operated prison, we rely on accurate record-keeping of what is happening in the prison. "We have always been very concerned Serco is incentivised not to keep accurate records because of the arrangement they have with the Corrections Department. "I do think it is concerning we have now seen an example of them keeping inaccurate records and, on top of that, not doing what they are required to do under their contract." Dotcom is awaiting a hearing on his possible extradition to the United States, set for April. Next Monday, which will be the second anniversary of the raid on his mansion, he intends to launch a political party, to be called the Party Party, at Shed 10 in Auckland. The launch will coincide with the release of his album, Good Times, the recording of which was interrupted by the raid on his mansion. It is billed as "an optimistic LP full of pop-dance music perfect to party to".


Oct 25, 2013 radionz.co.nz

The chief executive of British prison operator Serco has quit as part of a major reorganisation following a series of scandals. Serco has more than 120,000 staff in more than 30 countries, including New Zealand where it runs the private Mount Eden remand prison. Chris Hyman has resigned from Serco. AFP It will also run a new $840 million jail in Wiri, south of Auckland, when it opens in 2015. The British Government, which accounts for about 25% of Serco's revenue, announced three months ago it would not award the company any new contracts pending a review of existing ones. An audit found Serco and a rival company had both charged for tagging criminals who were dead, in prison or not being monitored. Serco says British chief executive Chris Hyman has resigned and has been replaced by the group's chief operating officer, Reuters reports. As part of a company-wide overhaul, Serco says it will strengthen its board by adding three new non-executive directors. In New Zealand, Serco has twice been fined $150,000 for letting inmates escape. The company was ordered to make operational changes as a result.

August 17, 2012 Radio New Zealand
New Zealand's only private prison operator, Serco, has been hit with another $150,000 fine for letting a second inmate escape. Graham Hay, an inmate at Auckland's Mt Eden Prison, spent 30 minutes on the run after undergoing an eye procedure at the Greenlane Clinical Centre in early June. An official report has found a non-standard pair of handcuffs was used to lock Hay to one of two guards escorting him to the appointment. The larger-than-usual cuffs slipped off Hay's wrist, allowing him to escape before he was caught by a police dog. The report says the incorrect handcuffs were used because prison officers had not properly checked the equipment beforehand. None of Serco's staff have been sacked as a result, although managing director Paul Mahoney says it has issued written warnings to some staff. The company has been ordered to make operational changes. Last year, Serco was fined $150,000 following the escape of inmate Aaron Forden. The Corrections Department is in charge of overseeing Serco's $300 million contract with the New Zealand Government. Deputy chief executive Christine Stevenson says Hay's escape was avoidable and the fine is warranted.

July 5, 2012 Stuff
Private prison operator Serco has failed to meet half of its performance targets since taking over Auckland's Mt Eden Prison. A report card on Serco's performance released today reveals three inmates were wrongly released, one escaped and there were three wrongful detentions. The percentage of sentenced prisoners with an appropriate plan in place within required timeframes was only 28 per cent - two thirds lower than the 90 per cent target. Of 37 targets Serco was to meet in the nine months to April half weren't met. Corrections said Serco had accepted responsibility for one wrongful release. To date the final decision on whether they'd be fined on a second wrongful release had not been made, and discussions between both parties about whether they'd followed correct operational processes were ongoing. Corrections are to issue a performance notice for a third wrongful release that occurred in March. During its first quarter running the prison Serco was fined $150,000 after prisoner Aaron Forden escaped in February. Forden, dubbed "Houdini" escaped along with another inmate who was caught almost immediately. The firm was also fined $25,000 for releasing one inmate early and $50,000 for failing to file progress reports. Escapes and wrongful releases are listed as zero targets.

June 6, 2012 Auckland Now
Private prison operator Serco could be slapped with its second $150,000 fine this year after a prisoner escaped after getting his eyes checked on Sunday. A Mt Eden prisoner spent 30 minutes on the run after escaping while being escorted from the Greenlane Clinical Centre. The police dog unit and prison duty staff found him hiding in a garden shed at a property in Claude Rd, about 600 metres from the clinic. Auckland District Health Board spokesman Mark Fenwick said the prisoner escaped while being escorted back to the vehicle after receiving his treatment. The man is back in prison and faces charges of escaping custody. Serco, who are contracted by Corrections to manage the prison, would not comment on how the prisoner escaped. An internal inquiry is underway. Under Serco's contract with Corrections they can be fined $150,000 every time a prisoner escapes. They were fined in February after serial escaper Aaron Forden fled the prison after breaking into a service way in October, 2011.

April 27, 2012 New Zealand Herald
Private prison operators Serco have failed to meet several key performance measures since taking over running the Mt Eden Corrections Facility, a Corrections Department report shows. The report, released under the Official Information Act, shows two wrongful releases and one wrongful imprisonment in the eight months since the Mt Eden facility was handed to the British-based company. It was fined $150,000 when Aaron Stephen Forden, a prisoner dubbed "Houdini", escaped earlier this year. All of the incidents are listed as zero tolerance areas under Corrections Departments standards. Corrections chief executive Ray Smith told Radio New Zealand Serco's failure to meet several performance measures was "less than we expect". "We have been actively working with Serco to ensure that improvements are achieved." Other results showed an 82 per cent completion rate on random drug tests at the facility - 17 per cent short of the standard required. Targets for prisoner management plans and telephone call monitoring were not reached. However, random drug testing showed only a three per cent return of positive samples. The Public Service Association said the results showed the failure of privatising prisons. National Secretary Richard Wagstaff said Serco had jeopardised public safety by allowing wrongful releases and escapes. "The department may be trying to write these off as 'teething problems' but they are no such thing - these are core procedures that should be right from the start. "This report shows Serco is failing in its number one priority - to keep the public safe." Mr Wagstaff said the report showed the "folly" of opening another private prison at Wiri.

April 27, 2012 Scoop
National’s prison privatisation plan needs serious rethinking after failing to meet basic performance requirements at Mt Eden prison, Labour says. Labour’s Justice Sector Spokesperson Charles Chauvel says that the Government’s plans to privatise up to a quarter of New Zealand’s prison capacity will worsen the already dangerous failure to meet requirements. “Figures out today reveal worrying trends in Serco’s management of the Mt Eden Corrections Facility over the last eight months “Of particular concern are failures to meet drug testing and offender management plan targets, wrongful releases, and an escape from custody. “Coincidentally I visited Mt Eden yesterday, as well as the state-run Paremoremo and Auckland Women’s prisons. “While there is much positive work being done by the staff at each of them, one of the obvious realities is that a level playing field does not operate between the public and private sectors. Many of the state-run institutions have to cope with legacy facilities and procedures, which Serco is unburdened by. “In light of that – and especially since, under National Serco’s slice of the corrections pie will double once the new Wiri Prison is built next year, and up to a quarter of all inmates in the system will be under their control – the public has a right to expect Serco’s performance targets to be met.

February 21, 2012 Northern Advocate
Private prison operator Serco has been fined $150,000 after a prison dubbed "Houdini" escaped from the new Mt Eden Corrections facility. Aaron Stephen Forden, originally from Whangarei, broke into a service way and fled the prison complex last October, having famously escaped from the old Mt Eden Prison in 2008. Forden was recaptured a week later and is being dealt with by the courts. The Department of Corrections said in a statement that improvements had been made to the security of the facility since the escape following a joint review into the escape.

October 19, 2011 3 News
Two staff at Mt Eden Prison have been suspended after notorious escapee Aaron Forden broke out of the jail on October 10. Forden, dubbed "Houdini" for his serial escapes from custody, was recaptured in Auckland on Monday after a week on the run. Forden was the first inmate to break out of the new Mt Eden Corrections Facility, working with another prisoner to flee through a service way. The second inmate was recaptured but Forden got away, in a suspected waiting vehicle. The privately-managed prison is run by British-based company Serco, which could face a hefty fine over the escape. Serco Asia Pacific spokesman Paul Shaw confirmed to NZ Newswire that two prison staff had been suspended "pending the outcome of investigations". He said he was unable to comment further on the suspensions while the investigations were ongoing.

October 18, 2011 Stuff
''Houdini'' jail-breaker Aaron Forden spent seven days ''laying low'' with the help of associates, after escaping from Auckland's Mt Eden prison last week, police say. The 30-year-old was arrested just before 7pm last night at a residential address in Silverdale. Police also arrested a 24-year-old female living at the property and charged her with being an accessory after the fact. Auckland Police Detective Sergeant Iain Chapman says the week-long hunt for Forden included visits to various members of his family and friends. Known for dying his hair and changing his looks while on the run, Forden's appearance was unchanged this time.

October 12, 2011 Northern Advocate
A man with the ability to change his appearance like a chameleon to evade capture could be headed for familiar territory - Northland. Police are warning members of the public they should not approach 30-year-old Aaron Forden, who is considered unpredictable and dangerous, after he escaped from the new Mount Eden Corrections Facility on Monday. The notorious escape artist is the first person to escape from the new $218 million private prison. Whangarei Detective Steve Chamberlain said Forden had family and criminal links in Northland and that anyone who spotted him in the region should contact police immediately.

October 10, 2011 3 News
Private prison operator SERCO faces a $150,000 fine after the man nicknamed “Houdini” escaped from its custody. Aaron Forden scaled the perimeter fence of Mt Eden Corrections Facility early this morning. He was pursued by a police dog, but got away in a waiting car. Forden used knotted bed sheets to escape from Mt Eden Prison in 2008. “I would consider him to be unpredictable and therefore dangerous and that members of the public should not approach him,” says Detective Sergeant Iain Chapman. “But it’s only with assistance from the public and his associates that we will catch him.” Forden is known to change his appearance to avoid capture.

August 10, 2011 Stuff
Auckland's Mt Eden prison operator Serco has been accused of bribing inmates with bigger helpings of food and televisions in their cells to encourage them to behave. The prison officers' union, the Corrections Association, said that in addition to larger meals, Serco served dessert every night, unheard of in the State prison system, Radio New Zealand reported. Association president Beven Hanlon said the "luxuries" allowed the private prison operator to get by with a skeleton crew but guards were feeling vulnerable and leaving on a daily basis. Serco said in a statement the televisions must be paid for by the inmates and the quantities of food served and the number of officers employed were both appropriate.

June 1, 2011 Radio NZ
New Zealand's only private prison will begin housing inmates from Wednesday but concern has already been expressed about staffing levels. British company Serco is running the new Mount Eden jail for at least the next six years. The company's contract with the Government doesn't stipulate minimum staffing and the main prison guards union is worried the staff-to-inmate ratio won't be right. Corrections Association president Bevan Hanlon says the approximately 960 inmates were handled by 427 prison guards under public management but that number has dropped to 200 under private management. Serco rejects the figures, though is refusing to say exactly how many staff it has for reasons of security and commercial sensitivity.

New South Wales
July 25, 2010 Radio New Zealand News
The parent company of a private firm bidding to run services at Mount Eden prison has been ordered to repay $US20 million it overcharged customers in the United States. International firm Sodexo, which owns Kalyx, the company vying for the Auckland contract, was providing catering services to private schools and a university in New York. Sodexo overcharged for its services over five years and the New York State's Attorney General has ordered it to pay $US20 million. The office of the Corrections Minister, Judith Collins, says the minister cannot comment on whether this will affect Kalyx's bid, because the tender process is still underway. The minister's spokesperson says the privatisation plans have checks and balances set up to avoid these situations. He says observers from the Corrections Department will monitor privately run prisons. Green MP David Clendon says despite New York state monitoring of the private firm, it took a whistleblower to expose the five-year period of overpayment.

July 1, 2009 The National Business Review
The State should be responsible for prisoners not private companies, the Human Rights Commission said today. Chief Human Rights Commissioner Rosslyn Noonan appeared before Parliament's law and order select committee which is considering the Corrections (Contract Management of Prisons Amendment) Bill. Senior managers from private prison company GEO Group were present and heard groups condemn their business. The firm ran Auckland Central Remand Prison (ACRP) for five years until Labour won the 1999 election and refused to renew its contract. Ms Noonan said protecting the rights of detainees was a key function of government and should not be contracted out. "The management of prisons involves the exercise of some of the state's most coercive powers against individuals," the commission's submission said. "There should be direct accountability for the exercise of such powers. A government department directly accountable to a minister provides the clearest accountability." If the bill was to go ahead the commission wanted its monitoring measures beefed up. Recommendations included protecting staff from being sacked if they gave information to monitors and permitting prisoners to complain directly to monitors. Also prisons should be required to comply with international conventions around torture. Ms Noonan said early intervention would make the biggest difference. She called for willingness across parties not to make political capital out of the issue. Catholic organisation Caritas was concerned problems in the United States' private prisons -- such as beatings, rapes, suicides and other deaths in custody -- would be repeated here. It noted that in the US the same people running private prisons were also involved in lobbying government for longer sentences. GEO Group Australia managing director Pieter Bezuidenhout said his company had managed prisons in Australia for 17 years, operating in Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales.

March 19, 2003
Public sector employees today applauded a Carr government commitment to keep NSW prisons in the public domain.  Public Service Association (PSA) secretary Marie O'Sullivan said members were unhappy with state opposition leader John Brogden's plan to press ahead with more private prisons.  "I am delighted that the government intends to have prisons in NSW run by the government and I am very happy that no overseas interests will be able to garner profit from people's incarceration," Ms O'Sullivan said.  The Labor Party said all existing and new jails in NSW would be operated by the public sector, with the exception of Junee jail, which has been privately-run for a decade.  "Laws are made by the government and justice is administered by the government via government-appointed judges and those who ... are sent to jail should be supervised by government-appointed officers," Ms O'Sullivan said.  (AAP)

New Zealand Parliament
Apr 30, 2016 newshub.co.nz
Serco to blame for Kiwi death in detention - mother
The mother of a New Zealander who died in a Sydney detention centre has accused the Government of sitting on its hands and not looking after its citizens in Australian detention centres. Hera Peihopa believes her son Rob Peihopa, 42, died in a fight, and is blaming private prison operator Serco for his death. Mr Peihopa died at Villawood in early April, and initial reports suggested he died of a heart attack. He had served two years in prison for his part in a police chase and was fighting deportation at the end of his sentence, so he could stay close to family in Australia. His mother Hera told The Nation programme that she was initially told her son collapsed after a visit to the gym, but a coroner had since told her further investigation was needed. "When I saw his body three days after he died I saw evidence of a fight. He had injuries on his face, bruising and he had injuries behind his head." She suspected he had been attacked by a group, but had been told by police the detention centre's security camera system did not adequately capture the incident. "I blame Serco. They're the security company. They're responsible for our boys." However, Ms Peihopa also says the Australian Government should be more understanding of the detainees who appeal. "With the detainees I really believe that any appeals that they put forward should be considered," she says. "If they've got good family reasons why they should be here [in Australia] they should be given some consideration, not just totally overlook those long connections." Ms Peihopa says the New Zealand government has contacted her to explain the procedures she can follow and how they work, but added she does not feel supported. "I've not found them very helpful to me at all." Serco's long-term contract on Mt Eden prison in Auckland was cut short by Corrections in July last year following weeks of revelations about prison fight clubs, access to contraband and poor inmate behaviour. Ms Peihopa described her son as a "compassionate person". Australia has been criticised for tough new immigration laws that allow it to deport any non-citizen who has served a sentence of 12 months or more, or failed a character test. The rules have caught out many New Zealanders who have lived in Australia for years and no longer have roots in New Zealand.

October 15, 2011 Stuff
Private prison bosses will be able to decide inmates' security classifications, under new laws which also grant wider strip search powers. Corrections Minister Judith Collins introduced legislation to Parliament yesterday to enhance prison security, toughen up drug-testing and crack down on businesses behind bars. The Corrections Amendment Bill 2011 allows officers to "visually examine" body cavities and use instruments for searches. Staff can also search without managerial approval. And every inmate who returns from court, or other escorted outings, will be searched. The new laws allow contractors to make decisions about the temporary release or removal of a prisoner from their jail. Private prison bosses will also have the authority to reconsider security classifications. At the moment Corrections chief executive Ray Smith, or senior managers, determine the level. A private prison is planned for Wiri, South Auckland, although Prime Minister John Key said this week it may not be needed. Green Party corrections spokesman David Clendon said the changes were unacceptable. "A private manager can be fined if they allow escapes. In that context they are going to be very risk averse and use the high classification rather than the lower one." Only low to medium security prisoners are permitted to work outside the prison. High security inmates are not allowed to join programmes like Whare Oranga Ake. Mr Clendon is concerned about searches without approval. "I have to be cynical and say how long before searches like that, or simply even the threat, are used as punishment?"

July 28, 2010 Scoop
A private prison company that is bidding to run Mt Eden remand prison is under scrutiny in Australia for failing to make recommended changes after a high profile death in custody, said the Green Party today. An Australian parliamentary inquiry this week has heard that G4S has not implemented all the recommendations of an inquiry into the death of an Aboriginal elder in 2008. In particular, G4S has not been providing training to its workers in remote areas, according to Ian Johnston, the Australian Department of Corrective Services Commissioner. Green Party Corrections spokesperson David Clendon said “All of the prison corporations bidding to run Mt Eden remand prison have skeletons in their closets. It’s time for John Key’s Government to review whether any of these companies are suitable to operate in New Zealand,” said. “It is not good enough for the Minister to hide behind the tender process. She needs to let the public know what the minimum standards are for prison corporations who want to operate in New Zealand.” There had been two damning reports of G4S UK operations in the last month and now their Australian operations were coming under scrutiny, added Mr Clendon. “New Zealand’s public prisons are a long way from perfect but the evidence shows that privatisation is no magic bullet. It will not make our prisons safer, better or cheaper. “The community and public sector have lots of good innovative ideas about how the prison system can be improved. The Government should listen to them rather than flogging off prison management to corporations. “Private prisons have to make a profit, which means either cut backs on staff levels and rehabilitation, or charging more per prisoner. The perverse incentive to make a profit out of prisoners is at the heart of the problem,” said Mr Clendon.

July 25, 2010 Radio New Zealand News
The parent company of a private firm bidding to run services at Mount Eden prison has been ordered to repay $US20 million it overcharged customers in the United States. International firm Sodexo, which owns Kalyx, the company vying for the Auckland contract, was providing catering services to private schools and a university in New York. Sodexo overcharged for its services over five years and the New York State's Attorney General has ordered it to pay $US20 million. The office of the Corrections Minister, Judith Collins, says the minister cannot comment on whether this will affect Kalyx's bid, because the tender process is still underway. The minister's spokesperson says the privatisation plans have checks and balances set up to avoid these situations. He says observers from the Corrections Department will monitor privately run prisons. Green MP David Clendon says despite New York state monitoring of the private firm, it took a whistleblower to expose the five-year period of overpayment.

September 28, 2009 NZCity
Further doubt is being cast on the claimed efficiency of privately run prisons. The Green Party's pointing to evidence presented during Selected Committee hearings on private prisons legislation about the historical cost of the Auckland Remand Prison when it was in private hands. The Greens say it shows the cost per prisoner was over $57 thousand a year compared to around $50 thousand in the public system. The party says it proves there can be no justification for claims private prisons are cheaper than public ones. Meanwhile, special monitors are being proposed as part of the oversight for privately run prisons. Parliament's Law and Order Select Committee has reported back on the private prisons bill and is recommending additional checks and balances be put in place. It advises special monitors employed by the Department of Corrections be given free and unfettered access to the facilities to ensure proper standards are met. The Committee also recommends all private prison operators be required to comply with instructions from the Chief Executive of the Corrections Department.

September 4, 2009 Radio New Zealand
The Speaker of the House has decided not to uphold two privileges complaints against ACT MP David Garrett. The complaints centre around incidents during sessions of Parliament's law and order select committee. In the first complaint, Labour Party MP Clayton Cosgrove accused Mr Garrett of bullying people at select committee. During a hearing on private prisons legislation, Mr Garrett told two prison guards their submission would stop them getting a job in a privately-run prison. The second complaint stemmed from a closed, select committee session. Labour MP Carmel Sepuloni alleged that Mr Garrett challenged Mr Cosgrove to "take this outside" following an exchange between the men. Speaker Lockwood Smith has not upheld the complaints, with his office saying it was found there was no question of privilege to answer. Mr Garrett says the complaints were a waste of time and resources and little more than a publicity stunt by the Labour MPs. However, Mr Cosgrove says Mr Garrett's behaviour has fallen short of that expected of an MP. Mr Cosgrove believes there was a breach of privilege, but says the final decision lies with the Speaker.

July 31, 2009 Radio New Zealand
ACT MP David Garrett says he does not believe he intimidated two submitters to Parliament's law and order select committee, as alleged by the Labour Party. Labour Party MP Clayton Cosgrove believes Mr Garrett breached parliamentary privilege when he told two prison guards their submission would stop them from getting a job in a privately run prison. He says Mr Garrett's behaviour was shameful, and brought the select committee process into disrepute. Mr Cosgrove says the guards had experience working under private prison management and were providing expert opinions. Corrections Minister Judith Collins has also weighed in, saying the comments were totally inappropriate. But Mr Garrett says it was never his intention to intimidate, and he is looking forward to responding to Labour's complaint. Speaker of the House Lockwood Smith will decide whether to refer the matter to Parliament's privileges committee.

July 29, 2009 3 News
An MP from government confidence and supply party ACT today told prison officers who spoke out against private prisons that they had hurt their future job prospects. David Garrett's remark came hot on the heals of accusations yesterday that the Government attempted to intimidate and silence people. Those claims were sparked by Social Development Minister Paula Bennett releasing benefit details of two women who criticised a government decision to cut a training allowance. Today a group of prison officers, representing 30 officers who had previously worked for a privately run prison, made a submission to Parliament's law and order select committee which is considering legislation to enable private operators to run prisons. After Bart Birch, Uaea Leavasa and Satish Prasad criticised how Auckland Central Remand Prison was run under private contractor GEO Ltd between 2000 and 2005, Mr Garrett weighed in. "You say that you don't want to go back to working in this environment - to the private (sector). You'd be aware that given your submission here, you wouldn't get offered a job anyway, would you?" Other MPs on the committee were visibly disturbed by the remark and National's Shane Ardern was quick to reassure the men they should feel free to speak their minds before a committee of Parliament. "Can I say from my own party you can sit here without fear or favour," he said. Acting chairman on the committee Labour MP Clayton Cosgrove added his support for Mr Ardern's remark. Corrections Association of New Zealand president Beven Hanlon told NZPA he thought the remark out of line. The union already had concerns about Mr Garrett's involvement in the Sensible Sentencing Trust which advocates for tougher and longer sentencing. "All the things that private prisons advocate for," he said. "For him to then threaten staff over (their) future employment is a great concern." Mr Cosgrove described the comment as "Bennett mark two". "(People) should be able to come to a select committee without fear or favour to give their view." Mr Garrett's tone had been badgering and he carried that style on when other submitters made presentations, Mr Cosgrove said. "I think he needs to learn that we live in a democracy and in a democracy ... you're allowed to have a view and we should (give) people the respect of actually listening. "But he's behaving like a bully and I guess it is Paula Bennett mark two." Mr Garrett stood by his comment when questioned by media. "They were quite clearly extremely negative about the private prison managing company. It would seem to be most unlikely they would get a job with that company." He agreed the select committee process should be open and MPs should not stymie free exchange but did not think he had affected that. "They have the right to say whatever they like ... I didn't see I was stymying free debate at all." Asked why he felt compelled to talk about the officers' job prospects rather than ask questions about the bill, Mr Garrett said their motives were relevant and he had no regrets. "It was certainly no attempt to stifle the debate." Mr Garrett walked away when NZPA asked him to comment on the union view it was a threatening remark. In their submission, the officers said they had worked both for GEO and the Corrections Department. Under private management the focus was on protecting the company's reputation. They said under GEO staff were told to resign rather than have negligence revealed, an incident where a woman allegedly helped a relative escape was not investigated, and systems were not robust in areas like drug control and suicide. Another complaint was that GEO paid less for local workers and used contractors from Australia to fill gaps who were on salaries as much as $30,000 higher. Those contractors appeared unaware of cultural issues for Maori and Pacific inmates. Other casual workers were used and had lower levels of training and experience than full time staff who were not familiar with the prison, which raised risk levels.

July 1, 2009 The National Business Review
The State should be responsible for prisoners not private companies, the Human Rights Commission said today. Chief Human Rights Commissioner Rosslyn Noonan appeared before Parliament's law and order select committee which is considering the Corrections (Contract Management of Prisons Amendment) Bill. Senior managers from private prison company GEO Group were present and heard groups condemn their business. The firm ran Auckland Central Remand Prison (ACRP) for five years until Labour won the 1999 election and refused to renew its contract. Ms Noonan said protecting the rights of detainees was a key function of government and should not be contracted out. "The management of prisons involves the exercise of some of the state's most coercive powers against individuals," the commission's submission said. "There should be direct accountability for the exercise of such powers. A government department directly accountable to a minister provides the clearest accountability." If the bill was to go ahead the commission wanted its monitoring measures beefed up. Recommendations included protecting staff from being sacked if they gave information to monitors and permitting prisoners to complain directly to monitors. Also prisons should be required to comply with international conventions around torture. Ms Noonan said early intervention would make the biggest difference. She called for willingness across parties not to make political capital out of the issue. Catholic organisation Caritas was concerned problems in the United States' private prisons -- such as beatings, rapes, suicides and other deaths in custody -- would be repeated here. It noted that in the US the same people running private prisons were also involved in lobbying government for longer sentences. GEO Group Australia managing director Pieter Bezuidenhout said his company had managed prisons in Australia for 17 years, operating in Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales.

Public Service Association
July 13, 2005 Scoop
The Public Service Association (PSA) is welcoming the return of the Auckland Central Remand Prison to the public prisons service.  The Public Service Association (PSA) is New Zealand’s largest state sector union, and has a growing membership at the Department of Corrections. The contract between the Department and Australasian Correctional Management Limited to run the remand prison expired overnight. It will now be run by the Department of Corrections.  PSA National Secretary Brenda Pilott said workers employed by the private prison operator had, in effect, made the operation profitable since they were employed on poorer terms and conditions than the rest of the nation’s prison staff.  “Imprisoning people for the crimes they have committed is a core role of the state and it should never be hived off to a private operator for profit.   “The ACRP experiment proved that the exercise was a simple cost-cutting exercise of the type imposed across the public sector during the 1990s.  “It employed fewer officers per inmate and paid them less than staff employed by Corrections at all the other prisons across the country.  “At a time when Corrections is finding it increasingly difficult to recruit and retain quality staff it beggars belief that National would advocate greater use of private prison contracts. More private prisons would inevitably drag down pay and conditions for all prison staff and make recruitment even harder.  “National’s advocacy of tougher, longer sentences for a wider range of offences means it must be planning to employ many more prison staff. We have to ask who they think is going to staff them?,” Brenda Pilott said.

Wiri prison
South Auckland, Serco
Jun 20, 2016 newshub.co.nz
Corrections deploys extra monitors to Serco-run prison
Private prison operator Serco is back in the spotlight as it emerges Corrections has deployed extra monitors to the Wiri prison in south Auckland. Prison monitors are responsible for checking whether Serco is operating the prison according to the required standards, and also ensuring the facility is being managed in compliance with New Zealand legislation. In a statement to Newshub, Corrections northern regional commissioner Jeanette Burns confirmed there are now extra monitors at the Auckland South Corrections Facility. "We have deployed an additional two special monitors," she said. "They are assisting ASCF management with offender management approaches, as requested by them." Serco initially refused to confirm extra Corrections staff had been deployed to the site, but backtracked after being presented with a statement from the department, which confirmed the move. But prison director Mike Inglis insisted it did not reflect badly on Serco's management of the prison. "We review and scrutinise our work regularly and [ASCF] also operates under a comprehensive monthly reporting regime," he said. "We have welcomed two additional Corrections special monitors recently who are working with our management and frontline staff to deliver this operational excellence." But for Labour's Corrections spokesperson, Kelvin Davis, the deployment raises further questions about whether Serco is up to the job of running Kiwi prisons. "It makes me wonder why the taxpayer -- through Corrections -- is providing extra help to Serco, who are a private business," he told Newshub. "If they can't do the job themselves, then they shouldn't be in the job." Mr Davis suspects the extra monitors were deployed as a result of issues that have come to light over the past few months, including claims of beatings, bootleg alcohol and guards taking bribes to smuggle illicit goods into the prison. "I've heard stories of all sorts of issues that are going on," he said. "I've raised some with police; I've raised some in the media, and I've sent those issues on to the minister. It's just an ongoing story about Serco not being able to run the show." He believes it raises fresh concerns about whether inmates are safe in Serco's care. "I do have fears about the safety of not just the prisoners, but also what's happening to the people who are working there," he said. "If they have to call in Corrections to help run the show there must be problems, and safety would be the first concern." Serco got the boot from managing the Mt Eden Corrections Facility last year after a string of scandals that caused major embarrassment for the Government. In a brief statement to Newshub, Corrections Minister Judith Collins said she has no concerns at this time about Serco's management of the Wiri prison.

May 12, 2016 stuff.co.nz
Inmates shifted from Serco after home brew, assault incident
Inmates accused of being drunk on home brew and assaulting prison guards at Wiri have been moved from the Serco jail to the state-run prison in Paremoremo. The incident at Kohuora, Auckland South Corrections Facility, on April 30 sparked a clampdown in a wing holding 68 people. Some inmates who weren't involved in the attack complained of being locked in their cells for as long as 25 hours at a time. Asked why the state now had to look after inmates whose care was entrusted to Serco, Corrections Minister Judith Collins said Kohuora operated under the same classification rules as all other prisons. "As happens at all sites, if an incident happens, an event-based reclassification will be carried out on the prisoner. If this results in a reclassification to maximum security, then that prisoner is moved to Auckland Prison." Labour corrections spokesman Kelvin Davis says ongoing debacles have undermined public faith in Serco jails. Collins said Corrections managed the prison muster across the entire prison estate, including Kohuora. Labour corrections spokesman Kelvin Davis said the alleged home brew-fuelled assault and its aftermath made a "mockery" of the system. "Serco needs to deal with it, but because they say they all work together, it just enables them to transfer all the easy guys into Serco, and that boost's Serco's stats. "If they're so innovative and so good, they should be putting up their hands and saying 'we're going to take all the hardest guys.'" Davis said Serco should be more transparent about how incidents such as last weekend's happened. The company did not say how the home brew was made, or how it evaded detection. But Serco said its staff performed well in challenging prisoner behaviour, finding the contraband and taking swift action to remove it from inmates. "As in any facility, prisoners will attempt to smuggle or create contraband such as home brew and we have daily practices in place to stop them." A company spokesperson said staff frequently checked bins and bags, and recent changes meant inmates could not use these as containers for fermenting booze. Serco said the assault happened when staff were carrying out searches at the jail. An inmate's partner said on Thursday the situation at Kohuora had returned to normal, after last week's clampdown in which it was claimed some prisoners were locked up for as long as 25 hours. She said the normalisation was due to media exposure of the assault and lockdown. A few prisoners threatened to go on hunger strike before the controlled regime ended last Friday.

May 5, 2016 newstalkzb.co.nz
'Drunk' prisoners attacked guards at Wiri prison, wing in lockdown
UPDATED: 6.25PM Prisoners allegedly drunk on homebrew attacked staff at the Serco-run Wiri prison on Saturday, and a wing has been in lockdown ever since. The incident is the latest in a number of high profile incidents involving Serco, including an $8 million pay out to Corrections after the government had to step in to manage the Mt Eden facility. Serco today confirmed information supplied to the Herald from a source within the Auckland South Corrections Facility on Kiwi Tamaki Drive, The source, who wished not to be identified in case it compromised prisoners inside the facility, said an attack on guards took place at the weekend by some prisoners “high on homebrew” and that others not involved in the attack have been in lockdown ever since. “Some prisoners attacked the guards and so they locked the place down of course. They have since taken the culprits out of wherever it happened, but the people left behind are still getting locked up and let out for only an hour and locked up for 23 hours,” the source said. The source said prisoners were now on a hunger strike in protest of their treatment. A Serco New Zealand spokeswoman today confirmed the information. “There is currently a controlled regime in a single wing accommodating 68 prisoners,” said the spokeswoman. “The measure was temporarily imposed on Monday... for safety and security reasons, and following a review the regime will return to normal tomorrow. “The regime was applied after two prisoners allegedly assaulted members of staff on the wing on Saturday. The incident was reported to police. “The prisoners were relocated and will be subject to the internal disciplinary process. Contraband “homebrew” was also discovered in the wing.” The source said that the prisoners were being locked up for up to 25 hours, and even though the prisoners were there “for a reason” they still deserved fair treatment within the jail. “But the 23 hours can actually be in 25 hour or more lots, say if they are let out at 9am until 10am one day but not let out until 11am or later the next day. “They are still entitled to certain things. If they have got the culprits why can’t it go back to normal?” The prison spokeswoman said under the “controlled regime” prisoners were unlocked for less time than they would be normally, but prisoners can still attend visits, work, education, sports and fitness activities. “The safety, security and wellbeing of staff and prisoners is our first priority. Assaults are never acceptable and our staff must be able to observe and challenge prisoners who are acting to undermine the good order of the prison.” Labour’s Corrections spokesman Kelvin Davis said it was yet another example of problems with Serco’s operations. “It goes to show that despite claims to the contrary, that things are happening in Serco that should not be. The guards were attacked by a couple of prisoners yet a whole lot of other prisoners have been punished when they had nothing to do with it. “By all means, punish the people involved, but [punishing others] does nothing to ease tensions or aid rehabilitation of these prisoners.” Corrections Minister Judith Collins said she was advised of the incident today and has spoken with Corrections managers about it. "The regional commissioner's confirmed that she was satisfied with the way they'd handled it, as she reminded me these instances happen from time to time in any prison, but that she was very satisfied with the way Serco had looked after the matter." Collins said she was advised of the incident today and has spoken with Corrections managers about it. "The regional commissioner's confirmed that she was satisfied with the way they'd handled it, as she reminded me these instances happen from time to time in any prison, but that she was very satisfied with the way Serco had looked after the matter." Corrections spokeswoman Jeanette Burns said the agency was aware of the incident. “This is an operational matter for Serco which manages Auckland South Corrections Facility, and we are satisfied it has been handled appropriately.” The incident is the latest in a number of high profile incidents involving Serco, an international outsourcing group, and its operation of New Zealand prisons. A judicial review into reports of Serco’s management of the Mt Eden Correctional Facility is currently underway after its $300 million, 10-year contract with Corrections was terminated following reports surfaced on social media of organised fights and contraband.
Serco took over the management of the Mt Eden remand prison in 2011 and has now agreed to pay $8 million to cover the costs associated with the contract ending.

Oct 3, 2015 nzherald.co.nz
Jail attack inmate transgender
The inmate reportedly raped at a privately run men's prison in South Auckland is transgender. A family spokesperson confirmed to the Herald on Sunday the inmate was taking hormone pills to become a woman. The transgender community says the inmate is not getting enough support after the incident which is alleged to have happened at the privately-run Wiri prison in South Auckland on Friday morning. The inmate - described by family as having a "gentle disposition" - is being treated at a prison health unit. Police and Corrections investigations are underway into the allegations. Lynda Whitehead, president of transgender support group Agender New Zealand, said transgender inmates needed better protection. "They are terribly vulnerable, especially when a male is transitioning to be female," Whitehead said.