Minister welcomes private prison partnership

  • Clem Simich

Australasian Correctional Management Pty. Ltd. (ACM) has won the contract to run New Zealand's first contract-managed prison, Corrections Minister Clem Simich announced today.

On Wednesday the Department of Corrections signed a $102 million, five-year contract with ACM to run the Auckland Central Remand Prison, which is under construction and scheduled to open in May next year.

"The Government believes putting prison management contracts up for tender will not only achieve quality service, but also provide good value for taxpayers' money," Mr Simich said. "It offers the opportunity for competition in the provision of prison services, as well as allowing for fresh management styles."

Sydney-based ACM has operated in Australia since 1991, and operates three prisons in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, in addition to four immigration centres.

"ACM came through a rigorous tender process against strong competition from three other tenderers, including New Zealand's Public Prisons Service. As a private prison operator ACM may be a newcomer to this country, but is internationally known and highly experienced in Australia."

Mr Simich said he was particularly pleased ACM had appointed an experienced New Zealand prison manager to run the new facility. Terry Easthope was manager of Rolleston Prison near Christchurch before joining ACM in 1996.

The contract between the Corrections Department and ACM will be tabled in Parliament, and specifies standards of management, inmate care and community safety, as well as the ways ACM's performance will be monitored.

A Memorandum of Understanding has also been signed between Corrections and the Iwi Whanui O Tamaki Makaurau project group to ensure the contract also took account of inmates' cultural needs. ACM will continue to work with Iwi Whanui and will develop a relationship with other Maori and Pacific Island groups.

The $40 million Auckland Central Remand Prison will accommodate 252 inmates, with capacity for up to 360 if necessary. It includes a 24-cell special needs unit, a seven-cell medical unit, a visiting area and recreation spaces. The five-storey complex is being built on a site in Lauder Road, Mt. Eden, next door to the existing Mt. Eden Prison.

Auckland Central Remand Prison is the first of three new prisons which will have their management contracts put out to tender. Tenders will also be called for the contracts to manage the new regional prisons opening in Northland in 2001 and Auckland in 2003.

"Today's announcement marks the beginning of a new approach to inmate management in this country, which will help us pursue the goal of reducing reoffending," Mr Simich concluded.