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Assault on guards locks down Serco prison

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 5/05/2016

A wing of a Serco-run prison in Auckland has been on lockdown since drunk prisoners allegedly attacked guards over the weekend.

The incident comes after it was announced in April Serco would have to pay the government $8 million to cover the cost of Corrections stepping in to take over the management of the Mt Eden Corrections Facility in July last year.

A Serco spokeswoman on Thursday confirmed 42 of the 68 inmates in one wing at the Auckland South Corrections Facility, in Wiri, had been subject to a "controlled regime" since Monday.

"The regime was applied after two prisoners allegedly assaulted members of staff, and contraband homebrew was discovered in the wing on Saturday," she said.

Under the lockdown, prisoners are unlocked for less time than normal with only 10 cells being opened at any one time.

"They can still attend visits, work, education, sports and fitness activities," the spokeswoman said.

Three of the prisoners had said they would go on a hunger strike on Wednesday, but on Thursday changed their mind, she said.

The lockdown is expected to end on Friday following a review.

Corrections Minister Judith Collins told Radio NZ she had been told the prisoners were drunk and had taken keys and a radio from guards.

The kind of event was not acceptable but not unique to Serco facilities, and Corrections was happy with how it had been handled, she said.

"The fact is prisoners do this from time to time in corrections facilities," she said. "We are talking about self-care units where there is a lot of trust."

Corrections announced it was taking over the management of Mt Eden in July following weeks of revelations about prison fight clubs, access to contraband and poor inmate behaviour.

In December, Corrections said it would not be renewing Serco's contract to run the prison beyond March 2017.

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