Concerns Raised By Prison Officers Association

March 31, 2019 | 7 Comments

The Ministry is “aware of concerns raised” by the Prison Officers Association “regarding the health and safety of its members,” National Security Minister Wayne Caines confirmed, adding that the Ministry “remains committed to continuing to work with the POA membership to resolve any outstanding issues.”

Minister Caines said, “The Ministry of National Security recognises the critical and important work that the members of our uniformed services undertake on a daily basis.

“We value their sacrifice, dedication and commitment and we greatly appreciate the role they serve in safeguarding and protecting our community.

“With that, the Ministry of National Security has been made aware of concerns raised by the Prison Officers Association [POA] regarding the health and safety of its members within the Department of Corrections.

“It is important to stress that over the course of the last year, the Ministry has met with the POA on at least five occasions to discuss the matters raised – and we have achieved some success in reaching resolutions.

“I can assure the POA that this Ministry remains committed to continuing to work with the POA membership to resolve any outstanding issues.

“Chief among the priorities for the Ministry and the POA was to increase our manpower at the Department of Corrections. The public should note that during 2018/19 a total of 21 new prison officers joined the department’s ranks, and in March 2019, a recruitment drive for 25 new officers commenced. When the officers from this recruitment drive complete their training our staffing challenges will be significantly reduced.

“Additionally, to ensure continuity and focus this Ministry championed the creation and implementation of a strategic plan. And to ensure transparency and collaboration we invited the POA to be a part of the strategic planning process.

“The public will recall that in April 2018, with input provided by the POA, a strategic plan for the management of our prison service was implemented.

“We are thankful for the POA’s contribution to the strategic plan. Our overall aim is to work with the POA in partnership to fulfill the plan’s vision and mission.

“To date, much has been accomplished and I am pleased to provide the following update on a number of critical areas as outlined in the plan.

“Security Upgrades:

“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 cooperation.

“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.

“Infrastructure Upgrades:

“The health and wellbeing of our officers remains a paramount priority and we continue to channel our allocated resources towards ensuring a safe work environment for our officers.

“That said, the reality is that our correction facilities are aging structures which require ongoing maintenance. But we have worked hard over the last year to improve the infrastructure at our facilities.

“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.

“In fact, last Friday [March 29], the Ministry of Public Works attended Westgate to assess and devise a plan for making repairs. It is expected repairs will be completed in the coming weeks.

“As it relates to training our Corrections Officers to manage inmates with mental health challenges, I can confirm that the Ministry is currently in discussions with the Ministry of Health and the Bermuda Hospitals Board to explore the feasibility of introducing a forensic mental health unit in Bermuda.

“Finally turning to the area of salary negotiations, this is a matter that is ongoing with the POA and the Public Services Negotiation Team, and we await the completion of this process.

“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. And 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.”

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  1. I response to the article titled “Concerns Raised By Prison Officers Association”, these are my comments.

    To recruit 21 new officers in 2018/2019 and have 25 more recruits in training in 2019 in asking for stress and problems throughout any organization. That’s 46 new officers in two years. Please tell us how many staff Corrections have with less than 5 years. This compounds the problems. It takes on average three to five years to become a good and experienced officer. An officer with less than five years in the prisons is a rookie. An officer has to have at least five years to take the promotion exams.

    To add to the folly, very recently, Corrections promoted 18 officers from Divisional Officer to Assistant Commissioner.
    Why so many at one time. Are you telling us that a smaller number of officers were not ready for promotion before this.

    The strategic plans that the Minister and the Association have needs to look much harder at the quality and experience of staff and not just numbers. Too many new officers and new promotions in such a short period of time will certainly cause bigger problems down the road. In fact, the problems have already started.

    We are also waiting with bated breath to see who the new Commissioner of Prisons will be and how they will operate with a prison full of rookies to deal with seasoned inmates.

    Gerald L. Bean
    Paget

  2. vote no more says:

    Give the pastor a couple more beans to figure that out too.

  3. Realist says:

    So Minister Caines, you reward the current Commissioner of Prisons with a cushiony, no outputs job at the Cabinet Office, because he did such stellar work at the prisons. The lack of accountability continues with no attention to real leadership. Minister your job is to manage the Commissioner not do the Commissioner’s job.

  4. sage says:

    Senior Magistrate Juan Wolfe has recently claimed that the judiciary has decreased the prison population by 50%, is this not true, or does it not make a difference?

  5. St.George's Passport and Immigration Control says:

    He needs more Titty Milk.

  6. Joe Bloggs says:

    “The public will recall that in April 2018, with input provided by the POA, a strategic plan for the management of our prison service was implemented.

    “We are thankful for the POA’s contribution to the strategic plan. Our overall aim is to work with the POA in partnership to fulfill the plan’s vision and mission.”

    I have no issue with the Government listening to the concerns of the POA or any organisation, but the impression I am left with is that the Union (POA) is making management decisions about running the prison and that would be a complete abdication of responsibility by the Prison management and the Government

  7. Oh,I see now says:

    THIS IS NOT A TEST…….

    Prison implosion in …3…2…1

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