30 Mar 2011

Revamped Mt Eden prison passes into private hands

7:32 pm on 30 March 2011

Auckland's revamped Mt Eden prison has been reopened and is about to pass into private control.

The new facility, opened by Corrections Minister Judith Collins on Wednesday, combines the purposes of the former Auckland Central Remand Prison and the historic and deteriorating Mt Eden jail.

It includes a new multi-storey building that has been criticised for looming over a nearby school and dominating the local landscape.

The Corrections project manager for the building, Campbell Twist, says the new structure is worlds apart from the old jail, with much better health and safety provisions for prisoners, staff and visitors.

Mr Twist says the project is on time and just under budget at $216 million.

British company in charge

The private British company Serco will take over management from Friday; it will be the first such private prison under new legislation.

The new facility, to be known as Mt Eden Corrections Facility, will hold just under a thousand inmates.

Once inmates have been transferred out of the old Mt Eden facility, which was built in 1888, it will be decommissioned as a prison.

Because of its historic status the building will not be demolished, but a decision is yet to be made on its future.