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Prison monitors should be sacked: Davis

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 5/10/2016

The MP who blew the whistle on the Mt Eden Prison fight clubs says monitors who failed to pick up Serco's mismanagement should be sacked.

A scathing just-released report says the fight clubs were weekly affairs, guards sometimes played pool instead of watching inmates and some serious assaults initially went unreported.

Since then the Department of Corrections has beefed up its monitoring regime but Labour's Kelvin Davis wants to know how it failed in the first place.

"Some of the recommendations I would make are sack the monitors and sack the inspectorate," he told NZ Newswire.

"How is it that in a system with four layers of accountability and monitoriong, this was allowed to continue - they were absolutely incompetent and gutless in their approach to dealing with Serco."

Mr Davis says the report by the Chief Inspector of Corrections indicates monitors were getting "pushback" from Serco when they asked questions.

"That's unacceptable, what we need is an inspectorate that's entirely independent of the department, that can go in and sweep things clean, that's not afraid of criticism and not afraid of challenging people."

The Greens say the report shows there was a complete lack of oversight, and Serco took advantage of it.

"Any new prisons that may be built should not have any private company involvement - the government must make that commitment to New Zealanders," said co-leader Metiria Turei.

Corrections Minister Judith Collins says lessons have been learnt from Serco's mismanagement.

The report makes 21 recommendations and Ms Collins says they have either been implemented or are in progress.

"Corrections has strengthened its monitoring of external contracts by providing for extra monitors as well as new special monitors," she said.

It included the setting up of a board to oversee major outsource contracts and the appointment of a new deputy chief executive of commercial services.

Ms Collins she's asked the State Services Commissioner for advice on how the department's inspectorate role can be further strengthened.

"I am confident that lessons have been learnt by all parties in relation to events at Mt Eden."

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