Corrections ordered to apologise to prisoner

  • 25/08/2015
Corrections ordered to apologise to prisoner

The Ombudsman has ordered the Corrections Department to apologise to an inmate for failing to ensure his safety.

Dame Beverley Wakem launched an investigation after a segregated prisoner at Mt Eden Corrections Facility was assaulted by mainstream inmates on two separate occasions in 2013.

The report identified numerous shortcomings by the Corrections Department and concluded "that the department provide [the prisoner] with an apology for the failure to properly investigate the two assaults".

Among the failures outlined were the facts that the prison failed to identify that the prisoners responsible for the assaults were mainstream prisoners, no separate investigations took place, the escorting officers were not interviewed and that there was no CCTV footage of the incident available.

Corrections Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga says he is "extremely concerned" about the way the prisoner's assault complaints were handled.

"Our prisons, whether privately or publicly run, are meant to keep our prisoners safe and in this case that did not happen.

"I expect all complaints of assaults by prisoners to be investigated thoroughly and action taken to hold to account those responsible," he says.

Mr Lotu-Iiga says an apology is the right thing to happen.

The prisoner's barrister Craig Tuck says it was an astounding miss by Corrections.

"In summary, the department has been found to have not property investigated the assaults, in other words Corrections' behaviour was unreasonable, but in my view it is potentially more sinister than that."

Mr Tuck says he also suspects evidence including CCTV footage of the incident has been deliberately removed.

Labour MP Kelvin Davis told Sean Plunket the Ombudsman report "downplays the situation".

"I don't believe the assaults on this prisoner were one-off things," he said

He called Serco's running of the prison a "litany of mistakes".

"This just goes to show that Serco is not fit to run prisons, the whole privatisation of prisons is just a botch job - they need to be kicked for touch," he said.

Corrections says the failure was the fault of Serco, which has been financially penalised for failing to ensure the appropriate separation of segregated prisoners, although not in relation to this particular case.

The incident won't be included in the ongoing inspectorate review into the Mt Eden Corrections Facility because it was already subject to the Ombudsman's investigation.

However, Mr Lotu-Iiga says such incidents will be considered when "determining the future role of Serco at the remand prison.

RadioLIVE / 3 News