• Nick Smith

Corrections Minister Nick Smith today announced that Chubb New Zealand Limited has been contracted by the Department of Corrections to provide prisoner transportation and courtroom custodial services in the Auckland and Northland regions following a competitive tender process.

"The Department received three bids from companies interested in providing the escort services. Chubb New Zealand Limited was the successful bidder in terms of both price and quality. The contract is for a term of five years and will provide savings to the taxpayer in excess of $1 million over that period. I will be monitoring the performance of this contract closely. If it proves successful, this approach will be extended to other regions."

Overseas experience shows that well managed contract services can at least match, if not better, the public sector in terms of price and quality of service. A Security Monitor will be appointed to ensure standards of security and safety are complied with.

"The Department of Corrections it taking an open approach on how best to provide services to offenders. It already uses contracts with private organisations for prisoner aid services, habilitation centres, community and educational programmes and health services. This escort contract is an extension of the philosophy that quality corrections services need not all be provided by the State."



Why allow for the contract management of prisons?
There is a clear need to benchmark the performance of the present prison system against other providers. The present monopoly system does not give a clear indication of whether the Public Prison Service is the most efficient and effective it can be.

What standards of management and care will contract managed prisons have to meet?
Contract managed prisons will still be Government owned and part of an overall integrated Corrections system. They will still be subject to the same management and care standards required of the Public Prison Service. The focus of contract managed prisons will still be on the rehabilitation of the inmate, as well as ensuring the safety of the public.

Just as in the Public Prison Service, leading edge correctional management is being put in place that is aimed at reducing re-offending. Programmes offered at contract managed prisons will deal with sociological and psychological issues common in Public Prisons.

In addition, there will be an appointed monitor in each facility to ensure the management of the prison is in accordance with the clear and specific guidelines outlined in the contract. As with our current prisons, inmate welfare will be monitored by inspectors, the Ombudsman, the Race Relations Office, and the Health and Disability Commissioner. Any contract will set out legally enforceable standards of security.

What is the Coalition Government Policy on contract management for prisons?
The coalition agreement prohibits the privatisation of existing prisons. The contract management for the running of new prisons means that the buildings will still be owned by the Crown. The decision on whether or not to contract manage a new prison will be made on a case by case basis.

How does the Coalition Government's policy differ from the former National Government's?
Previously, National was committed to private sector involvement in both existing and new prisons. It was also Government policy for the new prisons to be automatically privately run. A compromise was agreed between National and New Zealand First that private sector involvement would be limited only to new prisons and would only go to the private sector where in comparison to the Public Prison Service it offered better value for money.

Is this just a Government cost-cutting exercise?
Contract Management may mean savings for the taxpayer. Already New Zealand prisons are operating at a budget level equivalent to that shown in some contract managed overseas prisons. If we can achieve greater financial savings that is beneficial, but that is not the main reason for tendering prisons. Overseas experience has shown the benefits from contract management of prisons include:

- enhanced service effectiveness
- increased efficiency
- the opportunity to change some existing attitudes and systems in favour
- of new and innovative approaches in the management of inmates.
- the opportunity to foster a positive Departmental attitude towards the
- introduction of a competitive environment in terms of prison management systems.

What is the tendering process for the management of new prisons?
It is essential that the tendering process is open and transparent. The process will also be audited by Audit New Zealand. The Minister of Corrections is required to take a recommendation to Parliament regarding the appointment of a successful tender, therefore the contract will become a public document.

The Public Prison Service will tender for the contract management of the three new prisons. They will be treated equally along with all other tenders when it comes to establishing whether their bid is successful or not.

What is the timeline for commencing the tendering process?
Tenders for contract management of the new prisons will be invited in October. It is expected that the successful tender for Mt Eden Remand prison will be announced by the middle of next year.

Why is the Christchurch Prison new remand centre at Paparua not being subject to contract management?
The programme for building and commissioning this facility make it difficult to manage a proper tender process. There are also logistical issues with the site such as extensive sharing of kitchen, medical and other facilities that make separate management of the remand centre from the main prison either impractical or expensive.

Why will public prisons be tendering?
The Government is not hell-bent on these new prisons being privately run. This is only an advantage to the Government where there are cost saving or a better quality of service. Subjecting the public prisons service to the tender process is also a useful discipline in pricing its services to the taxpayer.

What prisons will be included in this tender process?
Auckland Central Remand prison in Mt Eden a 275 bed facility and is programmed to be completed in 2000.

New prisons in Auckland and Northland. A process for identifying suitable sites for these two new prisons has begun. These new prisons are currently programmed to be commissioned early in the new century.