5 May 2016

Prison in lockdown after inmates attack guards

6:26 pm on 5 May 2016

A Serco-run prison has put a prison wing into lock-down after inmates attacked two guards at the weekend, a response Corrections has applauded, the justice minister says.

Judith Collins being appointed as a Minister again 14.12.15.

Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Part of a wing at Auckland South Corrections Facility in Wiri is still in lockdown after the incident between prisoners and guards on Saturday.

Corrections Minister Judith Collins said the regional commissioner had told her today that two guards had been attacked and homebrew alcohol was later found in the cells.

They had also taken keys and a radio, she said.

"That was immediately dealt with as a code blue, as they call it, and the matter was sorted out very, very quickly, so it's totally unacceptable behaviour from the prisoners, but I understand Corrections was very satisfied with the way Serco handled it."

Ms Collins said the fact that it was a Serco-run prison was not an issue and the prisoners involved in the attack had been moved to a maximum-security prison.

"That's what tends to happen if people decide to do that, and the prisoners involved have been reclassified as maximum security and they are no doubt now regretting what they did.

The lockdown, which affects 42 of the 68 prisoners held in the high-security prison's wing, is due to be lifted tomorrow.

Serco said three prisoners yesterday had said they would go on hunger strike but today changed their minds.

The company was not releasing details about the incident, but said police were investigating.

"The fact is that prisoners do do this where they have access to food and all those sorts of things - they do it - and we're talking about self-care sorts of facilities where there's a lot of trust that's provided," Ms Collins said.

"This [also] happens in Corrections facilities, it's not acceptable when it does but it's the fact that Serco has acted in a way that Corrections is very happy with.

The minister said she had only found out about the incident today, but would prefer in future to be told as early as possible if such incidents occurred, even if Corrections decided it had been handled properly.

She had been told the guards who were attacked were well, but she would be checking on their condition herself.

Serco was penalised more than $8 million by the government for mismanaging Mt Eden remand prison and has failed to have that contract renewed.

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