Courts blocked from getting reports on remand prisoners

A HIGH COURT judge has promised to have the registrar of the Supreme Court write the Prisons Commissioner on arrangements for probation officers to hold virtual meetings with remand prisoners.

Justice Hayden St Clair-Douglas on Tuesday said he will speak with the registrar to have discussions after he read from an e-mail from the probation department which said it will not do reports unless officers get virtual access to prisoners.

“This is not good for us,” St Clair-Douglas said during a virtual hearing for three people charged for murder.

A probation officer’s report was requested for one of the accused, but in the e-mail, the department’s head said prison authorities told them there was no equipment to facilitate virtual interviews with inmates, since facilities are used to accommodate virtual court and for relatives.

The department’s head said unless the probation officer has virtual access to the inmate, they will not do the report requested by the judge. Probation officers’ reports are often used by judges in sentencing and St Clair-Douglas said he did not think the court could proceed to sentencing without that information for one of the accused.

“I think it is important. In the same way they can provide virtual hearings and accommodate relatives, it is a matter of making time for a probation officer,” the judge said. Attorneys representing the three also complained earlier that they are not allowed access to their clients to get written instructions from them because of covid19 restrictions at the prison. The case was adjourned to November 26.


"Courts blocked from getting reports on remand prisoners"

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