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Security to be stepped up following prison officers concerns

Prison Officers’ Association head Craig Clarke spelled out the personal safety fears of Westgate staff as he revealed Government has agreed to step up security.

Officers’ concern at dealing with people convicted of serious crimes was one of the main points behind the strike threat which hung over the prison in recent weeks, Mr Clarke said yesterday.

The POA has dropped any plans for industrial action after Government put proposals for key operational changes on the table this week.

Mr Clarke would not put specifics into the public domain, but told

The Royal Gazette: “Better security is being put in place to protect officers.

“Some concerns were serious. They were feeling unsafe in their working environment with certain inmates. Officers don’t want to be working in places where you are being threatened just for doing your job.

“We’re looking at beefing up our security. How we handle inmates will be looked at.”

Mr Clarke said other concerns included the state of the prison’s infrastructure.

“Government agreed to look at maintenance challenges, ventilation and other issues. They agreed to fix them,” he said.

“It’s working in everybody’s favour. It’s a new day for the prison service.”

He said empty promises had been made in the past but added: “Now we have a working document in writing which is held by both parties.

“Prison officers were adamant that if we were accepting anything we need deadlines put in place: certain things have to be done by a certain time.”

Last week, prison officers said they had been in talks with Attorney General Michael Scott regarding sinking morale at the “sub-human” conditions they claim they’ve been made to work in for years.

They said they were not being given the tools to effectively and efficiently manage the inmate population.

The Bermuda Sun reported yesterday that officers had voted for industrial action earlier in the month, but that they agreed to accept Government’s proposals after a meeting on Monday.

Mr Clarke said: “I was pleased with the Attorney General, how he dealt with everything.”

He has stressed pay was near the bottom of prison officers’ list of concerns.

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Published August 25, 2011 at 10:01 am (Updated August 25, 2011 at 10:01 am)

Security to be stepped up following prison officers concerns

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