Commissioner of Prisons Gerard Wilson is more confident now that the prison service is well on its way to winning the war against the criminal elements who continue to conduct their operations from behind prison walls.
Admitting that the high occurrence of criminal activity from within the prisons had become a bit overwhelming in recent times, particularly when prison officers became the target, Wilson said yesterday the recent and ongoing joint efforts of the various arms of national security and the intelligence community were bearing fruit. He said with the different arms of law enforcmenet working together to clamp down on criminal activity from behind bars, there had been visibe improvement in the efficiency of obtaining the relevant information needed to ensure officers are safe.
The service’s efforts were boosted on Friday, when the US Embassy, in its continued efforts to assist the T&T Prison service in executing its duties, donated some equipment which was supposed to up the ability to respond to emergencies and also track the criminal networks carrying out operations from behind bars. The embassy donated counterfeit currency detection machines, riot gear kits and computer hardware.
The donation was made through the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative, utilising funding from the US Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.
In handing over the computer hardware, US Ambassador Joseph N Mondello said it would allow the prison service to better identify and track the criminal networks active in the prisons. Mondello said it was his pleasure to continue their work with the T&T Prison Service as they sought to promote and maintain a more effectively and efficiently run prison service where true rehabilitation could take place.
Yesterday, however, Wilson said he could not give any further information on this for security reasons.
“The machinery that is being received from the US is an area I cannot really disclose because it is a security issue and I would not be able to explain what it does. However, I am certain it would help in the fight against illicit activities,” Wilson said, adding it would help the T&T Prison Service creating a more effective prison system.
He said the US Embassy had been funding several training programmes and many prison officers had benefited from them within the last two or three years.
Recently, he said officers attended a US Department of State-sponsored “Mock Prison Riot” training exercise in West Virginia, while he recently benefited from a one-month course in Germany on terrorism.
Asked to comment on the accuracy of Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith’s revelation on Friday that intelligence gathering had affirmed at least 50 murders had been conducted following ‘hits’ sent from the nation’s prison, Wilson said the police service and other external security agencies/intelligencies would be better be prepared to answer that question.