Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Good riddance to Serco

Serco's contract to run Mt Eden Prison will not be extended. Good. Pretty obviously, their management of the prison was a shambles, relying on understaffing it to boost profits while juking the stats to hide the effects, and they well deserve to be thrown out for it. While I'd prefer to see the contract terminated immediately, this is probably the easiest way to do it without an enormous lawsuit. But it poses two obvious questions: who takes over Mt Eden, and what about Wiri, which Serco also runs?

In both cases, the answer should be "Corrections". The problems at Mt Eden were not problems with Serco, but fundamental to private provision; replacing Serco with another private provider (such as the equally dubious G4S) will simply result in the same problems all over again. And while we haven't heard about them cropping up at Wiri yet, its only a matter of time. Unfortunately, National are such muppets that they gave Serco a 25 year contract on Wiri, meaning it will be far harder to get them out. We'll probably have to wait for multiple people to die on Serco's watch as a result of their incompetence and skimping in order to terminate - a price we will no doubt pay eventually, but still far too high. It would be better not to contract out prisons to private providers who put prisoner's lives in jeopardy in the first place.