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Really, minister?

Bunting’s failure to acknowledge poor state of lock-ups irks cops

Friday, August 15, 2014    

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THE Police Officers Association (POA) has raised concerns about what it termed a "seemingly lack of acknowledgement" by National Security Minister Peter Bunting about the deplorable state of the island's lock-ups.

The officers' concern came following a report of a directive by Bunting for an audit of inmates in the island's lock-ups.

"While we have no objection with his authority to order the audit, we note with grave concern the seemingly lack of acknowledgement of the long-standing issues relating to the squalid and inhumane condition of police lock-ups," the POA said in a statement issued to the media.

"The POA wishes to put on record that all divisional managers are required to provide weekly reports of the status of cells and prisoners in custody. It is a known fact, as documented in these reports, that most of our cells are overcrowded, poorly built and lack adequate personal care facilities. These conditions expose both police and inmates alike to grave personal risks," the statement added.

The minister's directive came amidst increased public outcry over the death of 31-year-old Mario Deane, who died on August 6 from injuries he received while he was locked up at the Barnett Street Police Station in St James. Deane was arrested over a ganja spliff.

Two fellow inmates, including one who is schizophrenic, have since been charged with Deane's death and charges are expected to be laid against a third man — a deaf/mute. Meanwhile, six police officers assigned to the station have since been interdicted over the incident.

Yesterday, the POA contended that "poor conditions and inadequate cell capacity" significantly hamper the police's crime-management strategies while pointing out that there is space at the Horizon Adult Remand Centre.

"The POA is aware that there are hundreds of unutilised vacancies at the Horizon Adult Remand Centre, which could be utilised to address these concerns affecting police lock-ups. Additionally, we encourage the Government to expedite plans to refurbish police lock-ups in line with international human rights standards," the association said.

The POA, however, encouraged its members to "continue the difficult task of taking care of inmates under such difficult conditions".

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