Minister opens new Mt Eden Corrections Facility

  • Judith Collins

Corrections Minister Judith Collins today opened the new Mt Eden Corrections Facility – the country’s most modern prison and the first since 2005 to be managed by a private sector contractor.

The new 554-bed Mt Eden prison building, gatehouse and support buildings will replace the existing Mt Eden Prison which was opened in 1888. The facility will incorporate Auckland Central Remand Prison (ACRP) and be known as Mt Eden Corrections Facility (MECF). It will provide accommodation for up to 966, mainly remand, prisoners.

The facility will be managed by Serco, a British company that manages prisons and other infrastructure around the world. The transition to Serco management will begin tomorrow and is scheduled to be completed in August.

Ms Collins said the new facility was a “tremendous achievement”, and thanked those who had worked so hard to make it a reality.

She said MECF would be the country’s most modern prison both in terms of design and its approach to management of prisoners and rehabilitation.

“It’s crucial that prisons not only keep dangerous criminals securely locked away, but they have a strong focus on helping prisoners turn their lives around.

“It is our responsibility to ensure prisoners have the skills to find employment, or to help them beat the addictions that inevitably lead them back to a life of crime.

“This Government believes so strongly in rehabilitation that we have doubled the number of prisoners receiving work training, and are doubling the number of prisoners that can undertake drug and alcohol rehabilitation.

“We are proud of our track record. But we always want to do better. To do this we need to get fresh perspectives and new approaches to running a prison, managing prisoners and reducing re-offending.

“Tomorrow, when the transition begins to private sector management, we will be taking a major step in that direction.”

ACRP was under private management from 1999-2005 before the law was changed by the Labour Government to prohibit private management of prisons.

In 2009 the Government passed the Corrections (Contract Management of Prisons) Amendment Act 2009, which allowed private sector organisations to tender for contracts to manage prisons on a case-by-case basis.

“The Department’s contract with Serco is about encouraging new ideas and new approaches. Because when it comes to an issue as important as reducing crime and keeping New Zealanders safe, we don’t want to be straitjacketed by ideology,” Ms Collins said.

“We want to do what works.”