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Prisons review to look at security and safety

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An independent review of the prison service is to be carried out to address officers' safety concerns about Bermuda's “new breed of criminal”.

Attorney General and Minister of Justice Michael Scott has announced that all areas of the prison service will be carefully examined with the aim of producing a five-year strategic plan.

The review will specifically look at how gang member inmates are being controlled and the concerns of prison officers who say current legislation is outdated.

Government and the Prison Officers Association (POA) signed an agreement at a press conference yesterday.

Both parties agree there is an “urgent” need for the review with the search for an independent audit firm to conduct the review to be the first step.

The review will cover all aspects of policy, leadership, management, operations, infrastructure and legislative reform at Westgate, the Prison Farm and the Co-Ed Facility.

Craig Clarke, chairman of the Prison Officers Association, said that inmates were now “a different breed of criminal” and if the system didn't change, “it would be anarchy”.

He said: “We have to get away from the idea that we can run a prison with 1979 legalisation. We deserve to work in a safe environment.”

Mr Clarke added that he had met several Ministers over the last seven years and he was pleased action was finally being taken.

Mr Scott said he hoped the review would “pave the way forward in a change in direction” of the Department of Corrections.

He said the review would be addressing security and safety in all sectors of the Corrections Department as the current laws were “antiquated”. The review will also touch on salaries.

Mr Scott said: “It represents us moving forward and avoiding undesired and unwanted labour issues.

“Underlying the POA's and the Government's decision to reset the course and direction of Corrections are health and safety concerns conditions of work for Officers and staff of Corrections including infrastructure repairs improvements and enhancements to all Corrections facilities.

“The objectives are targeted and will be delivered along reasonable and strategically crafted time lines adopting a phased approach where necessary”.

Mr Scott said he could not predict how long the review would take but said the strategic plan aimed to “assess, clarify and direct” the Department mandate.

Yesterday's agreement was signed after the POA accepted the terms and conditions put forward by Government.

Mr Scott said he was looking forward to a “new spirit of partnership” and he vowed “not to disappoint” the prison officers.

It follows a couple of weeks of uncertainty with some reports suggesting prison officers had voted to go on strike, although no notice was ever given.

Last week

The Royal Gazette

reported reported that POA members had “grown weary of not having the tools to effectively and efficiently manage the inmate population”. Mr Clarke said in a statement that officers were working in conditions that were “sub-human”.

Attorney General Michael Scott (left)signs an agreement with the Prison Officers Association regarding the Department of Corrections. Also signing is Commissioner of Corrections Edward Lamb. (Photo by Akil Simmons)
The Attorney General/Minister of Justice, the Hon. Michael Scott, JP,MP, signed an agreement with the Prison Officers Association regarding the Department of Corrections.LT COL Eddie Lamb(Photo by Akil Simmons) August 26,2011
The Attorney General/Minister of Justice, the Hon. Michael Scott, JP,MP, signed an agreement with the Prison Officers Association regarding the Department of Corrections.Left- Craig R.Clarke and the Hon. Micael Scott signing the agreement.(Photo by Akil Simmons) August 26,2011
The Attorney General/Minister of Justice, the Hon. Michael Scott, JP,MP, signed an agreement with the Prison Officers Association regarding the Department of Corrections.Left- The Hon. Micael Scott and LT COL Eddie Lamb signing the agreement(Photo by Akil Simmons) August 26,2011
The Attorney General/Minister of Justice, the Hon. Michael Scott, JP,MP, signed an agreement with the Prison Officers Association regarding the Department of Corrections.Left- Craig R.Clarke and the Hon. Micael Scott.(Photo by Akil Simmons) August 26,2011
The Attorney General/Minister of Justice, the Hon. Michael Scott, JP,MP, signed an agreement with the Prison Officers Association regarding the Department of Corrections.(Photo by Akil Simmons) August 26,2011
The Attorney General/Minister of Justice, the Hon. Michael Scott, JP,MP, signed an agreement with the Prison Officers Association regarding the Department of Corrections.Left- Craig R.Clarke (Photo by Akil Simmons) August 26,2011
The Attorney General/Minister of Justice, the Hon. Michael Scott, JP,MP, signed an agreement with the Prison Officers Association regarding the Department of Corrections.Left- Craig R.Clarke and the Hon. Micael Scott signing the agreement.(Photo by Akil Simmons) August 26,2011
The Attorney General/Minister of Justice, the Hon. Michael Scott, JP,MP, signed an agreement with the Prison Officers Association regarding the Department of Corrections.Left- The Hon. Micael Scott and LT COL Eddie Lamb signing the agreement(Photo by Akil Simmons) August 26,2011
The Attorney General/Minister of Justice, the Hon. Michael Scott, JP,MP, signed an agreement with the Prison Officers Association regarding the Department of Corrections.Gladwin Simons signing the agreement(Photo by Akil Simmons) August 26,2011
The Attorney General/Minister of Justice, the Hon. Michael Scott, JP,MP, signed an agreement with the Prison Officers Association regarding the Department of Corrections.(Photo by Akil Simmons) August 26,2011

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Published August 27, 2011 at 8:00 am (Updated August 26, 2011 at 11:02 pm)

Prisons review to look at security and safety

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