The failure to escalate a report into fight clubs at Mount Eden Prison was a big mistake according to a just released review into the saga.
Corrections has released a further three reports into the Mt Eden Prison fight club fiasco, revealing more confusion from staff, a lack of proper process, and communications blunders.
Department boss Ray Smith made them public this afternoon "in the interests of transparency".
His release includes a 2009 report into fight clubs at the pre-Serco facility, a 2014 report into allegations of prisoners being forced to take part in fights, and a 2015 review into the 2014 report.
The 2015 review of the saga reveals Corrections National Commissioner Jeremy Lightfoot admitted the team responsible for elevating the issue to the top was effectively distracted by another issue - though exactly what that issue is has been redacted.
"Another incident (REDACTED) and the (REDACTED) matter emerged while the report was in draft and these took precedence and all resources. The Operational Review on organised fighting did not become a priority," the 2015 review says.
It also makes the admission there was uncertainty whether Corrections had the authority to order Serco around when it came to implementing any recommendations.
"There was some question as to the mechanism for requiring Serco to implement actions from a review which has been conducted by Corrections."
Alarmingly, the 2015 review reveals the Corrections executive leadership team, as well as the Mt Eden prison director, weren't given copies of the 2014 report until almost a year later, and weren't advised of issues about the fight clubs as they occurred.
It was also not escalated to the chief executive- which the review labels as a mistake.
"Escalation to the Chief Executive is a judgement call. Given the seriousness of the report and its potential impact on the Serco contract, the reviewers believe escalation would have been appropriate to the Chief Executive.
"This would have afforded the Chief Executive the opportunity to discuss the matter with the Minster if he so chose."
The 2009 Corrections report details an investigation into information received that prisoners were being forced to fight each other in the yards, and that prison staff were involved in organising and betting on the fights.
A prisoner interviewed in the report, who was serving a short sentence for property offences, said prisoners were assaulted if they did not fight. Another prisoner, a gang member "with a good understanding of the dynamics of prison life" also said those who refused to fight got "pack attacked" and that some staff turned a blind eye while others betted up to $5000 on the outcome.
The report found there was insufficient evidence to corroborate the allegations, but there was a consensus among staff and prisoners that fights were tolerated by some staff because it made managing troublesome prisoners easier.