1 Nov 2015

Answers sought over Mt Eden assaults

3:26 pm on 1 November 2015

An investigation is under way into two assaults earlier this year on a prisoner at Mt Eden Prison.

Mt Eden Corrections Facility.

An investigation looking into several allegations at Mt Eden Prison is under way. Photo: RNZ

Labour Party corrections spokesperson Kelvin Davis said he had been told the man was attacked twice by fellow prisoners, then approached by a Serco staff member while he was recovering in hospital and blamed for what had occurred.

The private company was running the jail until earlier this year, and still employs most of the staff.

The former prisoner - who has since moved to France - is considering legal action against Serco and possibly the Department of Corrections, according to media reports.

Serco said today an investigation had begun into an incident, but would not comment further.

Caucus run 21/07/15

Kelvin Davis Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Mr Davis said he believed Serco had been negligent in its work at the prison. "This guy's suffered severe injuries and I think might have some brain damage," he said.

"He should have been protected from the people who assaulted him the first time."

Mr Davis said Serco should not be running any prison in New Zealand.

"Their track record around the world tells me that they never should have got the contract in the first place, but I just think it throws the whole privatisation of prisons into doubt.

"It just doesn't work anywhere, and what we're hearing about what's happened in Mt Eden is consistent with what we've heard of Serco running prisons all around the world, including the detention centres."

Serco had left the taxpayer-funded Department of Corrections open to being sued, he said.

"There's a real case here I believe with this guy who's gone back to Europe... Serco should be sued in the first place, but Corrections - they never should have allowed Serco to have the contract and so they're culpable as well."

Corrections was not open enough when negative incidents at prisons occurred, Mr Davis said.

"When these types of events do happen, there's next to no real investigation. No criminal investigation. Corrections and Serco investigate for themselves and to me that's wrong.

"There needs to be some sort of independent investigation that goes on into these assaults, but there's so many that are happening that they'd be run off their feet."

The Department of Corrections has been managing the prison while a series of allegations are investigated.

A department spokesperson said the prisoner's experience was one of the cases included in a wider investigation by the prison inspectorate.

A final draft report by the Chief Inspector of Corrections about Mt Eden Corrections Facility was given to the chief executive of Corrections for review on 30 October.

The first phase of the investigation included the circumstances of prisoner-on-prisoner fighting at Mt Eden, access to cell phones and the adequacy of reporting on incidents of prisoner violence.

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