Delay into prison fights report queried

  • 21/07/2015

A report carried out last year into allegations about organised fights in Auckland's privately run Mt Eden prison should have been passed to bosses sooner, says Corrections Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga.

Footage emerged last week of inmates taking part in "fight club" brawls, and a couple of days later more showed prisoners drinking homemade alcohol, smoking drugs and using a guard's walkie-talkie.

Serco, the private company that runs the prison, is promising a tough response and two investigations have commenced.

But Corrections has found itself in hot water after it emerged a report into allegations about organised brawls was carried out a year ago.

Relevant parts of that report weren't given to Serco until May this year and Corrections boss Ray Smith said he only read the report at the weekend.

Mr Lotu-Iiga told reporters today his office was given the report on Saturday.

"I'm disappointed it wasn't elevated fast enough, I've made those feelings clear to my staff at Corrections."

It should have been brought to the attention of Mr Smith sooner he said and he has yet to receive an explanation for the delay.

Prime Minister John Key yesterday said he's concerned about what appears to be going on at the prison.

"In the end we have a duty of care, I would have thought as the government, to make sure people are safe in prisons," he told reporters.

However, he said it had clauses in its contract with Serco which allowed it to take action if it is justified and required.

Mr Lotu-Iiga said he will wait for the findings of the independent investigation into inmate behaviour before he makes any decisions around Serco's contract.

Serco is also carrying out its own investigation.

Meanwhile, Labour's corrections spokesman Kelvin Davis is calling for Serco's director of operations Scott McNairn to front parliament's law and order committee.