Serco suspension a win for the government

This whole story was pushed out by the unions when they needed a circuit breaker to get Labour’s Asian Bashing off the front pages.

And although it’s delivered on that, the good news is that Serco have been found wanting, and the Government gets to clean it up before it gets out of control.

The Corrections Department will step in and put their own management team into the privately-run Serco prison in Mt Eden following serious allegations of assaults and other inappropriate behaviour.

The announcement was made at a press conference this afternoon following a meeting between Corrections chief executive Ray Smith and the Corrections Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga.

Mr Smith says the department has invoked the “step in” clause of the contract, and says a potentially substantial financial penalty may be imposed on Serco following the spate of violent incidents at the remand prison.

The clause allows the department to insert its own prison director from Tongariro and a “crack team” of 20 from Corrections team from across the country to oversee the daily running of the prison, however, the Serco staff will remain onsite.   Read more »

Private prison gets a ratings tick. I thought that the Opposition had been quiet of late re: private prisons.

After a few teething issues it appears the private prison…you know without the union staff…is performing exceptionally well compared with their union controlled competition.

Private prison operator Serco is outperforming most public prisons in league tables which measure prison escapes, positive drug tests and rates of violence and rehabilitation.

The Corrections Department published the performance grades for New Zealand’s 17 prisons for the first time in a bid for greater transparency and accountability.

The tables showed six prisons had exceeded performance targets, eight were operating “effectively”, and three needed improvement.  Read more »


Failure of State Prison Service

Two prisoners have escaped from state run Waikeria Prison:

Police have named two prisoners who escaped from Waikeria Prison early this morning.

They are Jesse Lee Ibell, 24 and Wayne Holmes, 23.

Police confirmed this afternoon that the two men had indeed left the prison’s grounds, after having confirmed sightings from the public that the men had been seen in the Hauraki Plains are this morning.

General Manager Prison Services Jeanette Burns confirmed two prisoners breached security and escaped from their cell in the early hours of this morning. The prisoners broke out of a unit that will be closed in April next year.

Detective Sergeant Ross Patterson of the Te Awamutu CIB said police were contacted shortly after 2am today about two Waikeria Prison inmates who were unaccounted for.

At first they thought the inmates could still be on the prison grounds. Just the other day the media was full of outrage because a prisoner managed to go missing for 30 minutes from Auckland Remand where Serco runs the prison. This was claimed to be a failure private prison system.

At least there is the possibility for a fine of $150,000 against Serco is they were at fault. WHat sanctions will there be regarding the escapes from Waikeria?

Will Corrections have calls for their axing of management of Waikeria Prison by the media?

If the PSA and Corrections Union claims that an escape is a failure of a private contract then surely a double escape from a state run prison is likewise a failure of the state system.



Closing the Corrections Clunkers

The government is closing down the old clunker prisons in the regions when the new prison at Wiri comes on stream:

Prime Minister John Key has confirmed old regional prisons are set to close and be replaced with a new privately-built prison at Wiri, in South Auckland.

The Government announced earlier this month that Serco, the private company managing Auckland’s Mt Eden prison, would also run the new 960-bed jail which would be built by Fletcher Construction.

Although the prison muster has been falling, the Government says it needs extra capacity in Auckland.

Serco is expected reduce reoffending by more than 10 per cent and will face financial penalties if it fails to meet the target.

I love the investive system. Just like when a prisoner escapes, the private operator cops a fine. Now with the private contracts definable and measurable outcomes are being built in to ensure that recidivism is addressed.

It is such a pity that Labour and the prison officers union are opposed to such accountability.

Labour’s justice spokesman Charles Chauvel said Wiri was expected to cost the taxpayer about $1 billion over 25 years but its “indirect” costs were becoming clear and were “disturbing”.

“National seems to have made a decision that, rather than refurbish many regional state-owned institutions, it will simply close them. Prison closures will be a big blow to regional economies. Job losses will be significant.”

The proposal made “little economic or social sense”.

The National-led Government should invest the $1 billion in improving existing state assets instead of boosting the bottom line of a private company, he said.

So when Labour is opposed to the sale of state assets they mean they prefer the state continues to own and operate Victorian era prisons and prisons built in the first third of the last century.

Will Corrections be fined?

Just the other day Serco, the private operator of the Mt Eden Remand prison was fined $150,000 after a prisoner escaped. On Tuesday a prisoner escaped from a Correction facility in Turangi:

A daring inmate has escaped from his prison in a Department of Corrections 4WD.

Jamie Paamu Hughes, 29, escaped from Rangipo Prison near Turangi about 11.15am this morning, police said.

Hughes escaped in a white 2005 Toyota Landcruiser, registration CPU985, which had a large grey speaker mounted on the roof.

Hughes is a 160cm tall male Maori of thin build. Police said anyone who sees him should not approach him but should contact police.

If private operators get fined for escapes, what is the sanction for when prisoners escape from state run facilities.

I have an idea…fine the CEO of Corrections, the General Manager of the prison and the Corrections Union the $150,000. Split it evenly. Seems fair.

The benefits of private operators

The left wing moans endlessly about privatising the operation of things like prisons and hospitals but they over look the benefits of the system….like penalising them when things go wrong.

The operator of Mt Eden prison has been fined $150,000 after a prisoner escaped.

The company, Serco, and the Corrections Department have carried out a review of security after notorious inmate Aaron Forden escaped from the prison in the early hours of October 10 last year.

The two groups say both operational security and the physical security of the building infrastructure have now been enhanced.

Department of Corrections Chief Executive Ray Smith says a portion of the payment to Serco for the management of Mount Eden prison is performance-related.

He says it’s appropriate to levy a financial penalty for the escape.

If the state was still operating the prison there would be no penalty and no corresponding incentive to conduct a review and improve security as a result. The problem with the astate operating anything is a complete lack of accountability. Serco has now found out what accountability in the private sector looks like.

There is nothing like a short sharp shock to the bottom line to improve performance.