EXCLUSIVE: Abuse within Serco far worse than reported

By   /   July 19, 2015  /   23 Comments

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TDB will be bringing more on this story over the next week as it cuts to the fundamental issues this country faces – the privatisation of social services that are the obligation of the State.


Overnight the Tip line here at The Daily Blog has been swamped by former prison guards, current prison guards and former inmates contacting us with information about what has been happening inside Serco.

The abuse is horrifying and how this has managed to continue with absolutely no oversight from the Government is the sort of corporate dystopia that gives you nightmares.

The Government have hushed this all up because they have invested a billion dollars into this right wing experiment and they can’t pull out now, they are also betting that NZers hatred and anger towards prisoners won’t generate any political fall out for them.

These are the comments of abuse inside Serco that we have received over night…

TDB: Are these abuses a Serco issue or a Public Prison issue?

ANON 1: No, it’s definitely Serco. In public prisons  they aren’t even allowed to spar. I  have heard first hand from prisoners, everywhere from vulnerable small guys to one violent Black Power Sergeant at Arms who was keen till he went to Serco and even he said it was too much. I have been making phone calls to complain about this  since 2012. 

TDB: Why is this happening at Serco?

ANON 2:  I see a fight starting in the yard and you press a panic button and make a radio call and a few dozen staff arrive in less than a minute. At Serco, it happens and there’s like one or two staff are expected to go into a yard of 50 plus prisoners. Not safe!!

A former Prisoner has also contacted us…

TDB: How bad is it inside Serco?

ANON 3:  I was state ward when i was 14, and off to prison as soon as eligible at 17. Been in and out of jail all my life. Seen everything you can imagine and some. Was in napier hill ’87 when a prisoner escaped after smashing an officers head open with an iron bar – I saw it all. Thats just one example. Was in Serco feb to march this year – saw all sorts of shit.  Serco needs to be accountable. My nephew(19yrs) was in serco a couply weeks ago and was forced to participate in contender fights for his life.

…let’s not forget that the National Party stripped prisoners of their right to vote in elections so that they have no way to even resist these types of systems of control over them.

TDB will be bringing more on this story over the next week as it cuts to the fundamental issues this country faces – the privatisation of social services that are the obligation of the State.

A country should be judged on how it treats its lowest members – fight clubs where the staff bet on the outcomes suggests NZs veneer of civility is a sick joke.

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  1. Helena says:

    The picture is one of a privatized brainwashing camp. First damage the heart and strip away any compassion, then start on the brainwashing. And what we are left with are damaged people, with trigger points, who are dangerous to themselves and others. All by design. A reckoning day will come.

  2. carlos says:

    I see this morning on the online herald that there has been ^shock horror^ a murderer who has been posting videos of himself singing to youtube! How dare he! Outrage! Outrage!
    Department of Corrections are investigating the banned use of cellphones immediately.
    Hopefully they can do it as quick as possible so that the people of NZ can happily go back to ignoring the problems within the private prison, and not have to see any more videos of these violent maori crims who are only really fighting because they are animals doing what comes naturally to them anyway.

    • Z says:

      I thought they were banned and the use of cellphone blocking tech in place?

      • TE says:

        yes they are banned
        This year alone 27 cellpones and 21 sim cards confiscated from
        Mt Eden might be just the tip of the ice berg
        Hello Serco, Sam Lotu- Liga National the Ban is not working
        Is it because the machine used for blocking the cell phone signal would effect surrounding industry?

  3. mary_a says:

    As sick and disturbing as the situation is, I say well done Martyn and TDB for keeping this awful issue alive, through the Tip Line. Many thanks guys.

    NatzKEY will attempt to sweep it under the rug, along with all the other sleaze and slime it’s hiding to save face!

    • Helena says:

      When the goodies win, Mary, (as the model of the Swiss Fed Institute of Technology says 90 – 95% in favour of the good guys) where should we put jonkey and his cronies?
      Perhaps forfeiture of all property and wealth.
      Then perhaps throw the whole lot of them back into the swamp they created.

  4. Lucy says:

    But we have had 5+ years of reality TV from the U.S. Inside their prisons that has normalized and validated this behavior. Why do you think all that filming went on. It is an attempt for further dehumanise these populations to stop us thinking how wrong this is. Prison in NZ are not just to remove liberty they are to punish and create a sense that people who end up there are not part of society. There has always been the idea that you judge a society by it’s prisons – our society is not looking rosy!

  5. Mark says:

    I believe that this is a serious issue. Globally the trend towards private prisons is alarming and exactly the dystopian nightmare that you have claimed Martyn. When you consider the en-vague-ening of the digital coms laws and the general air of police state coming down across the globe its no surprise that our muppet government is at the vanguard of this sort of injustice and it seems like we are coming into a sort of 1984 in which any of us could end up a contender for something as simple as an angry email. Coming the same week as Obama comes out in FAVOUR of more humane prison conditions and more realistic sentencing its a baffling world to look at, let alone for our young men and women to try to survive in. Go get em…

  6. TE says:

    Serco should never have gotten this contract in the first place
    $600 million for 25 years of what !!!!!!!!

    scared skeleton crews
    and the “Show me the money” mentality
    Now there are whispering of maybe if we gave them more money they could do a better job and protect prisoners.

    NZ state run prisons were so much better at rehabilition and recidivism rates, so why would National want to change it,? twice

    They lock young men up with out of touch managers and scared wardens with the dew of their far away homeland still on their breath,
    either scared of getting hurt or not scared of giving hurt.

    Prison’s, are they only good for creating a ‘the strongest will survive’ envronment for the correction fight club,
    Some young vunerable men who maybe have for the first time experienced jail for what ever reason, they are there,
    they should be able to depend on being treated like human beings not power and control fodder
    these young angry men who will be released out in our society with no rehabilitaion skills in place, just more anti social & anti establishment.
    80% of them will go back to jail
    with 25% on bail sexual offenders will be back.
    It doesnt look like much is happening in the recidivism take down National has promised under serco.

    There is a price to pay for letting the National Party get their own way in making serco the controlers of our young men and it won’t be you or me paying dearly, it will be our grand children and great grand children.
    The future society of NZ, they will pay some with their lives while all the people who had created this colossal FA will be dead buried pushing up daisys and who will the future anrgy young people blame?

    Why would the goverment pick a UK company that has shown abject failure where ever they are in the world and in what ever industry they have their piggy little fingers in
    WHY National?

    • K16 says:

      Why?? Because they want to privatize it anyway!!!! Regardless of the outcome… Ridiculous national…

  7. reason says:

    New Zealand now has the highest proportion of prisoners held in private prisons in the world ………….

    Alcohol is the single biggest driver of serious crime like murder, rape and child abuse in New Zealand ………… National has protected the Alcohol drug industry from real reform and kept the rate of Alcohol offending high.

    Science based evidence on safer drugs like Cannabis and MDMA is ignored in favor of experts like Mike Sabin who john Key promoted before he had to resign from parliament for “family reasons”.

    If Alcohol and other drugs were properly regulated we would be closing prisons and have a lot less victims of serious crime.

    National and Serco are corrupt.

    • Dennis Dorney says:

      A side issue of little relevance, but what is happening about Mike Sabin. Are the police still ‘investigating’?

    • Susan says:

      And previously Labour was in power for how long…that’s right 9 years.
      Just saying.

      • carlos says:

        I must have missed it when Labour privatised the prisons during their nine year term… oh wait they didn’t.
        I don’t see the point of your comment.
        The whole “Labour did bad things as well, so National can do what they like” argument just doesn’t wash.
        Or do two wrongs make a right?
        Just saying.

      • TE says:

        1999 National contracted Mt Eden out to Australian com ACM
        2005 Labour opposed to private prisons revived state run prisons
        2008 National revived private prisons again
        2011 serco contracted to run Mt Eden for 6 years
        2015 serco contracted to run Wiri for 25 years

  8. ThinkAboutIt says:

    Irrespective of the competence and quality of the organisation incarceration is the ultimate sanction of the state.
    As such its administration should only be carried out by a state organisation.
    As with many of the theory’s of the neoliberals and others of a similar persuasion the secondary and long term consequences are not fully taken into account. At the very least privatisation will lead to a lessening of the authority and respect for the state and in the longer term threaten its stability.

  9. bad12 says:

    This: https://www.reddit.com/…/i_was_recently_released_after_a_4_year_sentence… would suggest that Serco having had one of their screws organizing a fight club, even bringing in the boxing gloves, have known and condoned the organizing of fights for some time,

    According to this discussion thread, some of which contains plenty of jail-house humor many might find offensive, Serco would seem to have stopped their screw organizing the fights and left the crims to get on with it,

    Having done ‘the tour’ from Invercargill to Pare Max i can assure you that i have seen the same behavior in the State’s Prisons and my personal experience while serving a borstal sentence in 1975 was of the screws in charge of 2 prison farm work gangs offering packets of cigarettes to chosen inmates if they would attack another inmate,

    Already well known for my bouts of outrageous unnecessary violence i of course was offered the chance of earning the packet of cigarettes which i declined but offered to attack the other screw for the same payment,

    You only need to Google: inmate attacks inmate at paremoremo prison to get a sense of the level of violence that occurs in all our prisons whether they be State or Private run, and, that is just the incidents that result in enough damage to have those so damaged transported to public hospitals…

  10. Marcus says:

    It wouldn’t surprise me at all if they also had the services of prostitutes whenever they liked. They seem to have everything else. Who pays for all this?

  11. wild katipo says:


    Guns and Roses had it right….

    ‘Welcome to the jungle – it gets worse here everyday ,…

    Ya learn to live like an animal

    In the jungle where we play…


    What a sick shit society we have now…is this what the traitor Roger Douglas had in mind when he spoke about more choices?

    Neo liberalism and its perks…

    I’m surprised the bastards haven’t put forward the idea of a Roman style Colosseum to watch the prisoners butcher each other , – after that the unemployed would be up for a future curtain raiser to minimize the costs of running the show.


  12. FPO says:

    You are being lied to.

    This type of thing has been going on for decades in public prisons so please don’t fall for this crap that it is related to privatisation.

    Fights were regularly approved by unit managers and watched by staff at paremoremo, I say ‘were’ because I worked there some years ago but it was going in before I was there and I have no reason to believe anything has changed,

    Cell phones were brought in by staff, when the news was out there would be an organised search there were staff who looked after phones for inmates.

    Any honest staff who didn’t play along, or keep quiet, were persecuted and hounded out of the job.

    And please don’t allow head office time servers, their lawyers, MP’s and ministers to pretend they didn’t know either, they had evidence of systemic corruption of all kinds. Drunken staff, dopped out staff, violent, bullying staff abusing new staff as well as weaker inmates, fiddles of overtime and allowances……

    I see many who were abusers themselves, or who had the sense to keep quiet about what they know, have been very well rewarded with promotions. I can give names for you to investigate if you wish but probably not a good idea to do that on a public forum.

    It’s all an open secret, any staff stupid enough to speak out were finished so most have the sense to keep quiet.

    Oh and the prison officers association knew as well, again they hung honest staff out to dry while, in collusion with management, they protected the guilty.

    This story is very much like the Catholic Church pretending they didn’t know about sex abuse while spending decades, and a lot of money, on cover-ups, protection of the guilty and percecution of the innocent.

    All sides of politics were as bad as each other so please spare me this nonsense and claims of knowing nothing we are getting now.

  13. […] (although his performance on Paul Henry was a bit flat footed). Davis asked hard questions and as TDB suggested last week – the allegations are worse than just fight […]

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