Govt awards first private prison contract

MARTIN KAY
Last updated 09:36 14/12/2010

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A British company has been selected for the first private prison contract signed by the Government.

Corrections Minister Judith Collins said service management company Serco had won the tender to run the Auckland Central Remand Prison for six years from August next year.

The jail, based at Mt Eden, is the first to be handed to private control under National's policy to allow public private partnerships in prisons.

The Government is also considering bids for private involvement in a new prison planned for Wiri in South Auckland.

Collins said Serco, a British company with operations in Europe, the Middle East, Asia-Pacific and North America, was one of three companies that bid to run the ACRP.

She said the company had a "strong track record in running jails, and would bring fresh ideas to the prison's management.

"The appointment of Serco as the contract manager for Mt Eden/ACRP will bring in new ideas and international best practice which will benefit the entire corrections sector.

"Serco has a strong track record in managing prisons. I'm confident that the company will bring the high standards of professionalism, safety, rehabilitation and security expected by the Government to Mt Eden/ACRP."

She said the prison would be run under the same Corrections Department rules as all other jails.

All inmates would remain under the control of the department and would still be able to raise claims of mistreatment with the chief executive or the Ombudsmen in the same way as those in the public system.

The previous National Government allowed the jail to be run by the private sector, but the contract was canned by Labour in 2005.

National last year passed legislation reinstating public-private provisions for prison management, and plans to allow the Wiri jail to be run by private providers.

The planned jail is expected to cost up to $300 million to build and $60 million a year to run. It will have up to 1000 inmates.

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