25 Oct 2013

New home for top security inmates

3:44 pm on 25 October 2013

The country's most dangerous and disruptive criminals will soon be getting a new home.

The maximum security wing at Auckland Prison at Paremoremo is to be knocked down and a new facility built by the middle of 2017.

A cell at Auckland Prison.

A cell at Auckland Prison. Photo: RNZ

The wing will still only be able to hold 260 prisoners, but the Corrections Department says it will provide a far better service that the 50-year-old current wing which is worn out.

The new facility will be built under a public-private partnership, meaning a company will design, build, finance and maintain the wing under a contract with the Crown for the next 25 years. The project is expected to cost about $200 million.

Corrections' chief executive Ray Smith says the department will still manage the inmates.

"The reality is, it costs us every year to maintain this place and to keep developing it. Things break and prisoners break things, things change, security systems change. So what we're doing is shifting that risk to somebody else. It's part of the deal."

Corrections Minister Anne Tolley said on Friday the old buildings make it hard to deal with problem prisoners and the current wing is costly to look after.

The minister says the Government has a responsibility to make sure that inmates are well looked after and it also has a responsibility to the community to do what it can to rehabilitate them.

The new wing will also have a specialist mental health unit, which will help ease the long waiting list at the Mason Clinic.