Serco Announced to Operate the Adelaide Remand Centre

19 March 2019

Serco has been awarded the contract to operate the Adelaide Remand Centre (ARC). The first public announcement about the decision was made by Serco to their shareholders through a stock exchange announcement late last night in a sign of where the government’s priorities in prison management in this state appear to lie.

The PSA was formally advised by letter from DCS this morning (19 March 2019). A copy of that letter is available here. The Department is proposing that the operator will take over from 10 August 2019 which is far earlier than previously advised by DCS.

The letter from the Department features spin such as ‘centre of excellence for admission’ and ‘best-practice prisoner intake’. The PSA’s position is that these elements have already been in operation for years at the ARC under the operations of our Corrections Officer members, and there is a strong likelihood that the introduction of a private operator will see standards drop significantly.

The letter goes on to say ‘Serco has extensive experience in the delivery of correctional services, both in Australia and internationally’. What the letter neglects to say is that Serco also has an extensive and scandalous history of failure in operating private prisons and corporate responsibility in Australia and overseas.

Serco’s record speaks for itself. Serco has an extensive history of high-profile scandals and failure to meet contractual obligations associated with its business operations. This history has been extensively documented.

In Australia Serco’s operation of the South Queensland Correctional Centre was the subject of scathing criticism from the Queensland Crime and Corruption Commission.

In New Zealand Serco lost their contract for the Mount Eden prison and were fined $8m following widespread evidence of understaffing and poor supervision and reports of extreme violence and neglect.

In the UK Serco been the subject of criminal and statutory inquiries.

The PSA is continuing our fight against the privatisation of the ARC. The Government continues to refuse to supply information about how it is in the public interest to privatise the ARC, or any information about how they made the decision to privatise the ARC.

The PSA will be appearing before the SA Employment Court again today to seek orders in relation to the privatisation and orders about the lack of relevant documentation DCS has disclosed following the decision of the court earlier this month. The trial is set for hearing in April 2019.