An investigation into organised prisoner fights at Mt Eden prison has been extended, Corrections chief executive Ray Smith announced today.
The terms of reference and timeframe for the Chief Inspector of Corrections' investigation have been extended due to the number of issues raised at the facility, which was run by private company Serco until the Government seized control last month.
The final report on the first phase of the investigation will now be completed by October 30. That will includes the circumstances of prisoner-on-prisoner fighting, access to cellphones and the adequacy of reporting incidents of prisoner violence.
The terms of reference will now include the general safety and welfare of prisoners and reviewing monitoring arrangements.
The extension will enable the Chief Inspector to review complaints from prisoners and their families which have been referred to him since the investigation was announced on July 19.
"It was necessary to extend the timeframes of the investigation due to the large amount of information being received and the need to carry out the investigation carefully," Mr Smith said.
"It is essential that the investigation is comprehensive given the level of public interest in the operation of Mt Eden Correctional Facility. The safety of staff and prisoners is our top priority."
The Department will continue to manage the prison while the investigation is being completed.
Phase two will now be completed by November 30 That is reviewing the adequacy of controls of prisoner violence and access to cellphones in other New Zealand prisons.
Corrections took over the running of Mt Eden in July after Serco came under fire following a series of serious incidents at the prison.
Videos have emerged of prisoners fighting and using drugs in their cells, and allegations have been made in Parliament about mistreatment of prisoners.
Corrections Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga has come under pressure over a string of allegations relating to Mt Eden prison, the most recent that an officer was suspended after fighting an inmate.
Mr Lotu-Iiga said this week that media reports on the incident were incorrect, and the guard had in fact been caught on CCTV instructing inmates on sparring technique.