In a release issued yesterday, the Commissioner noted, “All prisons officers who are currently on vacation leave, with the exemption of those on pre-retirement leave, are directed to report immediately to the Prisons Administration Building, Golden Grove Road, Arouca. Effective August 29, 2011 all leave has been suspended.”
Rougier told Newsday yesterday that under the state of emergency, leave can be restricted for all prisons officers.
Asked by Newsday if the call-out was to supplement staff at the prisons due to the influx of persons charged under the anti-gang legislation, Rougier said that he could not give any further details. Also yesterday, president of the Prisons Officers Association, Rajkumar Ramroop, said as far as he was aware, under a state of emergency the Commissioner of Prisons can restrict leave.
“If there is a state of emergency, the Commissioner of Prisons has the option of restricting leave for all prisons officers, even those on vacation leave, and that is something every officer has to comply with.”
He added that, “I know it is meant to supplement the prison staff in light of what is taking place in the country with respect to the state of emergency, and we would want all of our officers to comply with the instructions; we support the administration, and by extension the Government to do what is required to ensure law and order prevails. Also, the safety of the prisons and any measure to reduce crime and public safety.”
He added that the executive of his association had planned to meet with the Deputy Prisons Commissioner at 3pm yesterday to iron out all issues relating to security within the confines of the prison system.
Newsday understands since the start of the state of emergency, hundreds of persons charged under the anti-gang legislation were being housed at the Golden Grove Prison in Arouca.
However, many of the gang members who had been warring before being apprehended by the security forces, and although instructions have been given to separate gang members, the prisons authorities have been experiencing difficulties in finding the adequate space for that separation to take place.
This has resulted in Government seeking alternative detention centres. Up until yesterday, the Aripo Detention Centre and the Brian Lara Stadium were identified as two venues to house gang members. However, no clear decision has been arrived at on that matter.