Serco failures highlight the perils of private prisons
06 Jul 2012
Alarm bells should be ringing about the future of private prisons in New Zealand following yet more performance failures by private prison operator Serco, according to the Public Service Association.
The latest quarterly performance report shows Serco continues to fail to meet key performance targets since taking over the running of Auckland’s Mt Eden Corrections Facility nine months ago. Those failures include escapes, wrongful releases and wrongful detention of inmates.
Serco has been given the green light to run a new privately-run 960-bed prison in Wiri in south Auckland which will cost $900 million and is due to open in 2015.
“The public should now rightly be asking whether Serco is up to the job and question why the government is so wedded to a privatisation prison agenda when there is enough capacity in our public prisons,” says PSA National Secretary Richard Wagstaff.
“Crime rates are down, there is much lower prison muster forecast, the public prison service has just been restructured, and there are spare beds in the system. Coupled with that the Minister has recently announced ambitious targets to reduce reoffending by 25% by 2017 which will further reduce inmate numbers.”
“When Wiri opens we’ll end up with a ridiculous situation whereby the government will fill it up with inmates because it won’t want to be paying private operators to run half full prisons. This could also lead to further closures of public prisons.”
The performance failures of Serco reflect overseas studies which show that privately managed prisons end up costing taxpayers more to run, pay staff poor wages and score badly on security and maintaining order and control.
“It’s surprising to hear the Minister saying she considers Serco’s performance to date to be a good start," Mr Wagstaff says.
“It’s also astounding that the government is so determined to keep pushing its privatisation agenda when we already have a quality system with spare capacity and which is there to serve the interests of the public rather than the interests of overseas private profit.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
PSA National Secretary Richard Wagstaff –0272778131
Media Contact Liz Brown – 0276005498