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Wednesday 22 January 2020
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Concerns prompt move of prison officers' dorms

PRISONS FREDERICK STREET, PORT-OF-SPAIN. PHOTO BY AYANNA KINSALE - Ayanna Kinsale
PRISONS FREDERICK STREET, PORT-OF-SPAIN. PHOTO BY AYANNA KINSALE - Ayanna Kinsale

THE living quarters for male and female prison officers have been moved outside prisons as a result of concerns of "professionalism and integrity," Minister in the Office of the Attorney General Fitzgerald Hinds has said.

He was chairing a joint select committee on national security at Parliament on Friday.

Hinds put questions to acting prisons commissioner Dane Clarke and wanted clarification of the reasons for moving the dormitories.

"I understand this idea of taking the dormitories for prison officers, male and female, outside the prison is as a result of the conduct of some of those officers, or the access they have living in that space.

"It is essentially questions about integrity, honesty and professionalism and the lack thereof on the part of some officers and the solution we proposed is to remove the dormitories and parking facilities from inside the compound to outside, so we can keep the inside a little more sanitised and easier to manage," Hinds said.

Clarke confirmed the reason for the change in location was accurate.

Hinds also asked Clarke whether he felt the training of prison officer recruits was sufficient to make them sound, law-abiding officers.

Clarke said he was satisfied with the quality of the training regime.

"It does the job it was intended to do. Most of them are persons of integrity and honesty.

"However ,like most organisation,s we do have rotten eggs.

"I consider it to be enough to deal with these issues. But as time goes on we will need to upgrade, especially as we shift from prisons to corrections."

Clarke also admitted background checks on new prison-officer recruits were not as extensive as he had hoped, but sought to reassure the committee that the prison service was working closely with the police and the regiment to vet candidates properly.

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