Lisa Owen: Labour MP Kelvin Davis believes that putting Serco at the helm of Mt Eden Prison has led to chaos and is a bad deal for taxpayers who are footing the bill. He's been inundated with allegations about mistreatment at the prison, and he joins me now. Good morning.
Kelvin Davis: Good morning.
You heard the Prime Minister there. He's saying these are just allegations at the moment. He will hold the prison to account. All hell will break loose if evidence shows that it's doing something wrong. What more can you ask for?
Well, look, I'd like to know what his definition of 'all hell will break loose' because, quite frankly, right now Serco's just sitting on the naughty step, and they're bringing in the public prison people to run a private system, so they've got the worst of both worlds. Because the taxpayer is paying to do the job that Serco should be doing. And that's just not right. But, also, he said, 'we've acted quickly.' 'Something happened today, we did this tomorrow.' The reality is Anne Tolley said, 'We've known about fight clubs for years,' and they've done nothing for yonks. It's only when they've seen it on Facebook, that's when they decided to act because it's publicly embarrassing for them.
Well, when you say they're sitting them on the naughty step, the Prime Minister has said there he's leaving the door open to terminate the contract.
Well, they haven't given them a written final warning. Basically, they haven't done anything except give wag their finger at them and then brought in the public service to run a private system.
He also really strongly disputed your facts over the Nick Evans case. Have you got that wrong?
Look, it's not about me. This is about people in prison who are getting bashed, um, allegedly getting bashed and raped and assaulted on a daily basis. That is what this is about. It is not about me. It is about people in prison who are vulnerable and they're getting dealt to.
Okay, well, you want Serco's Mt Eden contract cancelled. Would you cancel Wiri's as well — the big new prison?
Well, the rot has set in. I mean, in the UK, Serco's got problems. In Australia they've got problems. In Mt Eden they've got problems. Why would a couple of kilometres between Mt Eden and Auckland South mean that the rot hasn't spread that far as well? I mean, Serco is just not the company, and now they're looking at looking after other areas — social bonds. Let's keep Serco away from our kids.
Well, that would cost the taxpayer tens of millions of dollars. You realise that, don't you? Would you be prepared to wear that?
And the human cost. You know, what is the human cost? The cost of violence in prisons is that it's going to go out into the community when those people are released, and there's going to be a greater human cost. And that is the most important thing here.
Okay, well, you're getting inundated by emails and calls from people trying to tell you what's going on in that prison. Further serious allegations of a sexual nature now. What can you tell us about that?
Yes. We've received a number of allegations. And anything to do with, you know, serious sexual issues and that, we've just referred them straight to the police.
So, what? You're talking rape allegations?
At least three. And, uh, I haven't checked all my emails. There's been a tsunami of information come through, and I'm sure there will be more coming through. And anything that we believe needs to go to the police, we just direct it straight to them.
So at least three rape allegations that the Labour Party has referred or is referring on to the police to investigate?
Okay. Also, I understand you have information about extortion — claims of extortion from within Mt Eden Prison. Can you explain what's going on?
So inmates are standing over other inmates and getting them to call home, call families and say, 'You need to put money into bank accounts,' for protection, basically. And so, you know, we've referred this as well to the police.
And so that's happening on cell phones from inside the prison, as far as you can tell?
Absolutely. So prisoners in Mt Eden are being given cell phones, they've been made to call people on the outside and say, 'You need to put money into bank accounts.'
Again, it has to be asked, have you seen any evidence or are people just telling you this?
Yes, I've seen the evidence.
What kind of evidence?
Bank accounts numbers, cell phone numbers. Yeah. The evidence is there.
Okay, and are you referring those matters to the police as well?
They have been referred to the police.
Okay, is it just Mt Eden or are you getting information about other prisons — publicly run prisons?
We're not so naive as to say there's no violence in other prisons. We have got some emails about other prisons as well, but at the moment the overwhelming tsunami of information is about Mt Eden Correctional Facility and Serco.
Yeah, because the thing is what tells you that this is just to do with the fact that it's a private operator because a lot of people say, and the Prime Minister did say himself, if you put a lot of people with problems and issues into one tin together, this is inevitable.
Yeah, one of the big things, though, about what the Prime Minister said is that the public prisons are under scrutiny, whereas Serco isn't, and we've just been told to accept what they're saying. You know, those tables... We just can't trust the information on those tables. It's just absolute nonsense. They've said that there's only been 139 prisoner-on-prisoner assaults in Mt Eden. Look, I just cannot believe that because of the tsunami of information that's coming into me. They're just not credible figures.
Let's be clear here. Are you saying they're cooking the books?
What I'm saying is that I just can't believe the information that we're seeing.
All right. Thanks for joining me this morning, Kelvin Davis.
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