http://www.3news.co.nz/nznews/mt-eden-prison-guards-understaffed-afraid-2015072417

By Kim Vinnell

There are fresh revelations private prison operator Serco went out of its way to make sure its squeaky clean record stayed that way.

In Mt Eden prison where inmates are king, are guards who say they’re understaffed and afraid.

“It’s about time we all spoke out and say what it’s actually like,” says one guard, who spoke to 3 News on the condition of anonymity.

He says when prisoners or guards break the rules, management would rather official reports tell a different story.

“You’re told to state the facts, but to leave all other things out of it.

“They go missing off the system several times, or they get edited and you’re not told that they’re edited.”

The Government says it didn’t know what was going on, despite the fact three prison monitors – who are Corrections employees – have been there since Serco’s first day.

Under the Corrections Act, prison monitors must report to the chief executive at least every four months. The sole purpose of their job is to report on prison management and any concerns they may have about the prison’s running.

The union representing prison guards says after a dispute with one of these monitors, it was told to back off.

“They sent me a letter saying our members weren’t allowed to talk to the monitor and we’re not allowed to talk to the monitor,” says Corrections Association president Bevan Hanlon.

“You get told not to mention anything to them, and when they come around make sure your books are up to date, which is a little bit hard,” says the unidentified guard. “Because, for instance, if you’ve done something wrong or you’ve tried to cover it up after being told to … that’s not very professional, is it?”

Meanwhile, behind bars, prisoners are still on lockdown and kept in their cells 23 hours a day.

Lawyers say speaking to clients is becoming almost impossible.

“People aren’t getting the advice they need from their legal advisors,” says lawyer Tony Beach.

The list of problems facing Mt Eden’s new managers is growing longer.

3 News

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