Serco to be barred from Mt Eden contract renewal

It’s not very surprising to hear that serco’s contract to run Mt Eden prison won’t be renewed at a contract break point in 2017 although Serco would be able to re-apply.

What I do find a bit surprising is that the news needed tol be searched out about, it was nowhere near headlines where I looked.

Newstalk ZB reports: Serco sacked from Mt Eden contract

Private prison operator Serco’s contract to run Mt Eden Corrections Facility will not be renewed.

The company’s contract is up for review, and Corrections chief executive Ray Smith has recommended that it should not be extended beyond next year.

Cabinet has now approved Smith’s recommendation.

Management of the jail was taken off the company after a string of incidents including prisoner assaults and fight clubs earlier this year.

Smith spoke to Serco’s Asia Pacific chief executive last night, and the focus on both sides is to manage the transition carefully.

“This is a practical, logical next step that’s available to us. We’re taking it. They understand that. For all parties now, what’s really important now…is that we want a safe prison.”

Corrections Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga said it doesn’t look as if Serco has grounds to challenge the decision, and it’s response has been pretty much to accept it.

Smith reports either party can seek to break the contract at the six year mark.

“I think the contract’s given us all the leavers that we needed and we’re using them as appropriate,” Smith said. “When you put these things together, one of the reasons you want a break point in it is because things do change.”

This is embarrassing for Serco in their first term of their contract, but they seriousy embarrassed the Government and Corrections – and seem to have been less than satisfactory in their care of prisoners – so this seems fair enough.

It will be interesting to see if a private option is sought, and if so whether Serco tender again. I expect they probaly would, but their record will have to be overcome with a convincing pitch.



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  1. kittycatkin

     /  9th December 2015

    It was on 3 News, a reasonably long item.

  2. Robby

     /  9th December 2015

    Funny comment this…
    “… For all parties now, what’s really important now…is that we want a safe prison.”
    Bit of a contradiction really, lets lock up all the ratbags together, who need to be removed from society to protect the public, and make it a safe place. Bit of a hard ask really, but great for the government to have a multinational corporation to play scapegoat. Lets all hate on Serco, while ignoring the serious neglect, and high suicide rate that occurs in state prisons.

  3. @Kitty…

    Did 3 News cover the stabbing in Christchurch Prison today? Guess not …

    Just as they didn’t cover the death of Benton Marni Parata in Christchurch Prison in March this year either…. beaten to death in the high security wing

    Because SerCo aren’t running Christchurch Prison. Isn’t politics a wonderful thing

    All our prisons are dreadfully run – people get killed all the time. People suicide in them all the time. Beatings, stand overs, fight clubs all the time….

    This whole affair is a case study in a media beat up fuelled by an MP and a Union for their own purposes….

    Bottom up review of Prisons required.

    Couple of ideas for changes:
    >Split the Gang Members out in to segregated wings. Don’t let them prey on or recruit from the newbie pool

    >First timers in high staff special wings with additional rehabilitation and education staff – objective keep them safe, identify those who can be turned around and identify those who are just mad mofo’s who need to be watched…

    • It does seem that Serco Mt Eden have attracted a disprortionate amount of media attention but it also seems they have stuffed up. It’s easier to not renew their contract than any of the state run prisons.

      • Robby

         /  9th December 2015

        How have they stuffed up Pete? Bad things happen in prisons, that’s why people don’t want to go there. I would suggest you read ‘brookingblog’ for a little perspective….

        • jamie

           /  9th December 2015

          Of course bad things happen in prisons.

          Serco has been caught out lying about those things and trying cover them up.

      • Pete this is a political game. Watch what happens next now certain people and Davis are emboldened by Mt Eden being taken away from Serco. When the house resumes in 2016 they will target Wiri which Serco still manage

        Bottom line – all of our prisons have troubles, fight clubs, deaths. Rangi Kemara posted on this on here some time back re his experience in Springhill Prison.

        Thankful Collins is in charge now and her reputation is on the block. She ushered in Serco and now she needs to make sure Serco run a very tight ship at Wiri and that she front foots any issues that arise. i don’t think Davis will have such an easy run at it in 2016 – Sam Lotu iiga was the proverbial possum in the headlights and I suspect some not so civil servants shafted their Minister

    • Robby

       /  9th December 2015

      Agree entirely Dave, otherwise prisons just train better criminals…

  4. Pickled Possum

     /  10th December 2015

    Serco skeleton crew was the main reason they were failing.
    How can 1 guard be looking after so many prisoners effectively …
    they can’t.

    Serco lied and cheated on the stats to Corrections and were caught out by cell phone coverage of the prisoners fight club posted on youtube.
    This is the reason they were caught out when the contraband phones
    the fighting the intimidation and murder was exposed.
    Sercos transferring of the young man so badly beaten to Ngawha from Mt Eden in an ambulance and subsequent death in Whangarei hospital made for hard hearing
    society wanted/needed and got answers.

    When hard questions were asked from Sam Lotu IIiga MOC it became clear he had No Idea of what was going on and even when he found out he seemed uneducated on how or why Mt Eden was so lacking in skillful management.

    This gave Kelvin Davis spokesperson on Corrections the right to find and speak out.
    A report was instigated, but if the prisoners were allowed to speak freely which they were not NZ would have found out how truly corrupt Corrections is in NZ.

    Now we find Serco are to sacked from Mt Eden and hopefully Wiri prison will be next.
    The 25 year contract is worth 600 million to Serco shareholders
    not including their deal with Placemakers
    I expect Serco to fight for Wiri tooth and nail with all the fudged stats they can muster.

    Prisons have always been hot beds of discontent and illegal goings on but
    Does the NZ tax payer have to pay hundreds of millions to a failing UK company whose only interest is in lining the pockets of their share holders, to have a completely unsatisfactory service. No I don’t think so.

    • If a private aged-care provider creams excess profits off their ‘sales revenue’ – it being mostly the superannuation and savings of retired citizens – this might be described as legalised and sanctioned “elder abuse”?

      I am trying to think what the equivalent “abuse” is for privatised prisons? Legalised “perpetrator” abuse perhaps? Certainly it’s legalised taxpayer abuse, notwithstanding the absurd belief that only private companies are capable of efficient operation and that ‘shareholders’ are required to make this so.

      The citizen/taxpayers of Aotearoa/New Zealand are the friggin’ shareholders, or, to use the common corporate parlance, “stakeholders”.

      Basically, this train of thought conveys me into a labyrinth of “abuse”. Our society and its legal systems that creates criminals is abusive; they having abused their victims. They then enter an abusive penal system made more abusive by privatising it.

      What’s systemic about all this: Abuse.

      Time for a system-wide ‘defrag’ I reckon.


      • Mefrostate

         /  10th December 2015

        “Time for a system-wide ‘defrag’ I reckon.”

        Rhetoric unless you have some actual solutions to propose.


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