Seven prison officers, including an assistant superintendent, are all expected to be charged in connection with last Friday’s daring prison break.
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Cops want action on conditions
Acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams must deal urgently with the unsafe and unhealthy working conditions police work under at the cellblock area of the San Fernando Magistrates Court. So said Police Social and Welfare Association president Anand Ramesar as the court’s administrative staff stayed away from work for a third day for the same reason, unsafe and unhealthy conditions.
Ramesar said he and his executive met with the Police Commissioner on Monday to discuss the poor working conditions at the cellblock and Deputy Commissioner of Operations Harold Phillip was appointed to address the concerns. “So the commissioner is aware of it. He was told of the dilapidated, unhealthy and deplorable working conditions for the officers and the unsafe practices occurring in the harbouring of prisoners who are attending court.
“So it is not only a health risk but also a safety risk being incurred in terms of the holding of prisoners without the use of proper protocol,” he added. The association, he said, would take the necessary action if nothing was done within a reasonable time but he expects to get a positive response from the commissioner by next Wednesday. He agreed it would take some time to do a proper inspection of the building but said the health and safety of police officers must be the priority.
Ramesar said police at the cellblock were working beyond the call of duty since their lives were at risk on a daily basis. When Public Service Association president Watson Duke led court administrative staff in a walkout on Tuesday, he was barred from entering the cellblock. Among the issues listed are no lunchroom, no drinking water, mal-functioning toilets, a foul odour and flooding whenever it rains. The area is also infested with mosquitoes, fleas and rats, it was stated.
Duke has demanded that the Judiciary provides him with documents, such as the Town and Country planning approval; structural engineer report; indoor air quality test; fire certificate; Osha report of compliance; electrical inspectorate report and a report on the health surveillance of employees, which certifies the building safe by today. Meanwhile, court operations continued to be affected by the absence of the majority of administrative staff. The cashier’s booth remained closed and some cases had to be postponed.
Court was also closed at 3 pm yesterday for the city corporation to spray for mosquitoes.