8 Nov 2016

Corrections was warned two years ago about fight clubs

8:17 pm on 8 November 2016

Newly released information from the Corrections Department shows it was warned in 2014 that fight clubs were probably being run in Rimutaka and Ngawha Prisons.

Rimutaka Prison.

Rimutaka Prison Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

The department today released three more reports, from 2009 (PDF, 852KB), 2014 (PDF, 537KB) and 2015 (PDF, 558KB), which the final report into organised fights at Mt Eden Prison referred to when it was released last month.

The 2014 special monitor's investigation concluded that not only was there organised fighting among prisoners at the privately run Mt Eden jail, but that inmates had told it of other fight clubs at the other two state-run prisons in Upper Hutt and Northland.

It was unclear what, if anything, Corrections did about the other two prisons.

However, last month it said there was no evidence of fight clubs at prisons other than Mt Eden, after inspections in 2015 at eight jails including Ngawha and Rimutaka.

Corrections CEO Ray Smith told Checkpoint with John Campbell there had never been substantiated evidence that fight clubs were being run at Rimutaka or Ngawha.

Ray Smith - Chief Executive Corrections

Corrections CEO Ray Smith said he acted as soon as he had evidence fight clubs were happening. Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Mr Smith said he didn't see the report until July 2015, and he had spoken publicly about it then.

"I got the report and I read it and I commented publicly ... saying look I was surprised when I read the report, I found it sobering reading, I was disappointed it wasn't escalated.

"But I did understand that much of the report just didn't have the evidence."

Mr Smith said he had looked hard for evidence, and took action as soon as video footage emerged of fight clubs at Mt Eden.

"As soon as I saw that YouTube footage, we moved very quickly on that issue."

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