#Providenciales, October 17, 2019 – Turks and Caicos – Following several incidents of assault against Prison Officers by inmates over several months, a number of Prison Officers refused to report to their work stations on the morning of October 17th 2019 which resulted in the need to call an emergency meeting with staff.
The meeting was convened at 10:00am at the Police Headquarters in Grand Turk and was chaired by the Acting Governor, Her Excellency Anya Williams supported by the Acting Minister of Home Affairs, the Honourable Edwin Astwood, the Permanent Secretary of Home Affairs, Mrs. Clara Gardiner, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Bridgette Newman, Prison Superintendent, Mr. Grahame Hawkins and Assistant Superintendent of Police, Mr. Clifford Henry.
The Prison Officers raised a number of concerns relating to their working conditions, pay, benefits, security and safety, which were all discussed during the meeting.
Commenting on the meeting and its outcome, Acting Governor Her Excellency Anya Williams stated “Following a number of incidents of unrest and assault at the Prison, it was necessary to convene an emergency meeting with the Prison Officers to assure them that it was safe for them to return to work and that their concerns would be addressed.
A number of the matters raised were already in the process of being dealt with as substantial investments have been and will continue to be made in the infrastructure of the Prison and staff working conditions.
The UK recently funded a new fencing and lighting project for the prison, which once completed, will be followed by the reconstruction of the Yellow Wing, which was destroyed by fire following the hurricanes in 2017 and was subsequently tendered and awarded earlier this year.
In addition to this, the government has announced its intention to construct a new Remand Center in Providenciales to reduce the movement of prisoners for court purposes and the construction of a new Prison in Grand Turk to better address custody and rehabilitation.
The Prison has continued to see increases in staff over the years and progress is being made to providing staff with insurance, protective equipment and other resources to staff.
We understand and appreciate the challenges that our Prison Officers face every day in the carriage of their duties, and we are grateful for the jobs that they do and commit to working in partnership to address their concerns and to improve the overall state of the Prison.”
Acting Minister of Home Affairs, the Honourable Edwin Astwood said: “As acting Minister with responsibility for the Prison which is located on Grand Turk where I am based and serve the community, it was important to be present to join the Acting Governor, the Ministry of Home Affairs, and other senior officials to participate in communicating the Government’s efforts to address staff concerns and longstanding physical infrastructure issues at Her Majesty’s Prison. From our discussions, I am confident that a great deal of effort and work has already gone into resolving many of the issues raised and it is only a matter of weeks before some of them will materialize. Through this medium, I want to express the Government’s appreciation to management and staff for the work they do daily and reiterate our commitment to continue to provide meaningful support.”
Prison Superintendent Grahame Hawkins commented: “In the context of meals, prisoners received their breakfast at 9:30am this morning, their lunch meal at 12:30pm and will get their evening meal on time this evening.
In addition, The Police tactical team have also attended the prison today, as part of mutual support, with the intention of searching a number of areas and cells. The searching is being led by the prison team, with the assistance of the police. The intention is to demonstrate that the police and prison work together to make sure that the prison and those within it understand that security and safety is important.”
Upon conclusion of the meeting, the staff returned to their duties at 11:30am this morning.