Government defends prison contractor

Last updated 19:06 27/05/2012

Relevant offers

Politics

Maggie Barry keen to see 'mega herbs' on trip to Auckland Islands South Auckland mental health patients to start Govt's first social bond test Political attacks are in full swing as Labour and the Maori Party go head-to-head for the Maori seats New loyalty schemes and a wet 2016 boost Mercury Government tight-lipped about support for earthquake-affected businesses Chris Trotter: Deep State, big trouble Mum takes DHB to court for failing to prevent her son's death in the mental health unit English punts talk of electoral deals, Maori seat strategy, into the stands Hone Harawira gets clear Te Tai Tokerau run for Mana not running against Maori Party in other seats Bill English slams NZ Super Fund for chief executive's 36 per cent pay increase

The Government is adamant Serco is fit to manage New Zealand prisons, despite the company being investigated in the United Kingdom for "unsafe" practices.

Private prison operator Serco took over running the Mount Eden Prison a year ago and is tipped to run the new Wiri prison in south Auckland.

Serco is under investigation in the UK for allegedly providing an "unsafe" out-of-hours GP service, British newspaper The Guardian reported.

The contractor is also accused of allegedly manipulating results where it failed to meet targets.

The investigation comes after a surprise inspection by the UK’s health service NHS watchdog in Cornwall last month.

On TVNZ's Q+A programme this morning, Finance Minister Bill English defended the Government’s decision to select Serco to run two Auckland prisons.

"We've signed a contractual agreement with them, it's a very tight contractual agreement. For the first time it's aiming public money at getting results," English said.

English said he was confident in the service provided by Serco, which is incentivised to reduce prisoner reoffending.

The Corrections Department last month released a report today on the first eight months of British-based Serco's management.

One prisoner had escaped and two others were wrongfully released after private prison operator Serco took over running the Mount Eden Prison, documents showed.

The firm was fined $150,000 after prisoner Aaron Forden escaped. It was also fined $25,000 for releasing one inmate early and $50,000 for failing to file progress reports.

Random drug testing, prisoner management plans and telephone call monitoring targets were also not reached.

At the time, Corrections Minister Anne Tolley said the report was based on the first few months of the contract and as expected there needed to be some ''bedding in''.

Serco runs a large range of outsourced services for the government and local authorities in the UK.

The contractor confirmed some of the allegations made against it to The Guardian, but denied the service was unsafe.

A Serco representative also told the paper that the allegations are not new and that the claim that performance data have been manipulated has already been rejected by an independent audit.

Ad Feedback

- Fairfax Media

Special offers
Opinion poll

Should the speed limit be raised to 110kmh on some roads?

Yes

No

Vote Result

Related story: 110kmh limit moves closer

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content