Minister responds to prison officers
The Ministry of National Security will work to address concerns raised by the Prison Officers Association, according to Wayne Caines.
In a statement last might, Mr Caines, the Minister of National Security, said the ministry has met with the POA several times and has achieved “some success” in addressing their concerns.
Mr Caines said: “To address and improve the level of security in all of our correctional facilities, we have upgraded the fire alarm system, updated the internal and external CCTV camera system and provided more resources with the use of interdepartmental uniformed services co-operation.
“The public will be aware that I recently announced that we are stepping up our security efforts to combat drones. And at Westgate and the farm facility, we have commenced the installation of new security fencing.”
The minister added the Government had worked to improve the infrastructure at facilities.
Mr Caines said: “Some facility upgrades worth noting include improving the officer emergency/duress system, upgrades to the telephone and electrical supply systems, major water tank repairs and planned upgrades to the laundry facilities.
“We have also undertaken to conduct annual air-quality tests and introduce a stringent cleaning regimen.
“Lastly, we have been made aware of a recent incident involving the collapse of a portion of ceiling due to the extensive rain experienced, and I can confirm that this matter is being addressed.”
Mr Caines said the ministry is in discussions with the Ministry of Health and the Bermuda Hospitals Board about the possibility of introducing a forensic mental health unit.
And he said salary negotiations between the POA and the Public Service Negotiating Team are ongoing.
Mr Caines added: “The Ministry of National Security and Department of Corrections fully appreciate that our corrections officers work under difficult and at times stressful circumstances.
“We fully believe that our officers should be provided with the support they need to carry out their duties. We will provide them with that support and hope that they will continue to work with us in partnership to ensure a safe Bermuda for all.”
The statement came after Thad Hollis, lead negotiator for the POA, said that officers had not received a wage increase in ten years, bargaining over health insurance remained unresolved and that health and safety conditions were untenable.
He said Westgate also suffered from a lack of staff, including staff trained to deal with violent prisoners and inmates with severe mental-health issues.