29 Aug 2015

Serco boss defends Mt Eden handling

7:13 pm on 29 August 2015

The UK-based chief of Serco has defended his company's management of Mt Eden and Wiri prisons.

The Government has resumed management of Mt Eden Correctional Facility, after videos of fight clubs there were circulated.

Serco logo

Photo: RNZ / Kim Baker Wilson

Rupert Soames was in Auckland on Friday for meetings with Corrections Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga and Corrections Department chief executive Ray Smith.

Mr Soames told TV3 that Mt Eden had gone from being one of the worst-performing prisons to one of the best under Serco.

He said the allegations about fight clubs were still being investigated, so it was too early to reach conclusions about Serco's management.

"I have confidence in the way that they have been running the prison, subject to, we need to see the results of these serious allegations. Now, I have to say that prisons are places that allegations get made about, and is not necessarily the case that each one of them is true."

Mr Soames said Serco was interested in expanding its interests in New Zealand, particularly in the provision of state housing and rail.

"We are committed to New Zealand, we wish to be a good citizen here, we are active in the area of government services, and part of the reason I want to be here is to make sure that we are dealing and responding appropriately here."

Comment 'beggars belief', says Labour

But the Labour Party says Mr Soames' comment that Serco has turned Mt Eden prison from one of the worst performing prisons to one of the best, beggars belief.

Labour's corrections spokesperson Kelvin Davis said Serco was reporting on itself, and had not provided any evidence to support the claim it was operating efficiently.

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